Questions About How Gonzales Aide Got Her Job

Goodling scandal seems to be growing.

Well, you know what they say, “Things always look darkest just before they go completely black.”

Good god that’s disgusting! When I saw her age, I though it odd, but just assumed she was one of those high-fliers who seem to go from top school to S.Ct. intern, to one higher admin post after another. Then I saw her school and said, “Huh?”

How it all began:

She got her undergraduate degree from Messiah College.


She has cast herslf into the role of martyr in *The Passion of the Attorney General. *

Sorry, I forgot a link referencing Messiah College,

And she doesn’t know the law: she has no reason to plead the Fifth, since there’s nothing self-incriminatory about reporting on how the firings took place. No one is claiming she committed any crime, and, without being asked questions, she has no idea if she’ll be asked anything that could incriminate her.

True, but she sees this a s Passion play and thinks she has been written into the role of Judas. D Kyle Sampson has already grabbed the part of Peter, who denied Alberto Jesus at least 3 times during his testimony.

You make it sound like she’s an idiot. Do you think that a university affiliated with Pat Robertson would graduate idiots and that this administration would then go on to appoint said idiot to a position of power? Why, I bet the odds of that happening are . . .

I disagree very strongly, for a number of reasons.

First, Goodling is represented by counsel. So your argument is: not only does Monica Goodling not know the law, her attorney, the head of a major law firm’s criminal defense division, with thirty years of experience in similar matters, also doesn’t know the law. I’m not buying that.

Second, your assertion that there’s nothing criminal about reporting on how the firings happened doesn’t pass the smell test. (Neither does the assertion that she doesn’t know what she’ll be asked – they patently will not be asking her about who her favorite movie star is, or whether she prefers ketchup with her fries – they want to know what she knows about the firings.) If there were nothing criminal potentially in the offing, I doubt we’d all be leveling this amount of interest.

Third, here is her attorney’s letter explaining why Goodling is taking the Fifth. Note well the citation to Scooter Libby: he was prosecuted not because he did anything criminal in the underlying matter (revealing Valerie Plame’s name), but because he later allegedly lied about it. Given that members of Congress already have stated that they believe that Justice, including Goodling, lied about what happened, and given that Congress likely will be able to find testimony that contradicts or at least is arguably inconsistent with Goodling’s testimony, even if her testimony is truthful, Goodling will be put in the position of having her words used against her. That is the conservative’s lesson of Scooter Libby: even if you did nothing wrong, if other people remember events differently, you could be in trouble.

Fourth, note Dowd’s citation to Ohio v. Reiner (squib and case), in which the US Supreme Court upheld the right of a witness, who denies all culpability, nevertheless to invoke the privilege against self-incrimination. That would seem to support her position: because she will be put in an untenable position by having to answer the questions, despite her profession of innocence, she can invoke the Fifth.

Where I part ways with her is her contention that she shouldn’t actually have to invoke the Fifth. I agree with Congress, that she should have to show up and refuse to answer specific questions so that Congress can see the parameters of the information she’ll refuse to give up. This smacks a bit of a delaying tactic; it may well be that she’s gambling that once Gonzales testifies, Congress will be less interested in her, so she’s only got to hold out for another week and a half.

But anyway, Goodling is so last week. This week’s big USA news is, of course, Goodling’s fellow traveler Rachel Paulose, USA for Minnesota, whose three deputies resigned to go back to prosecuting cases. I wonder why…

Are you serious? You can just say, “I refuse to testify on the grounds that I’m going to perjure myself?” Somehow I doubt that.

As that isn’t what I said, it’s a bit hard to know how to respond. She isn’t claiming she’s going to perjure herself. She’s claiming that Congress has already decided she’s guilty of something, and so even if she tells the truth, they will pit her words against her. Note that the letter refers to an unnamed senior source at DOJ, who apparently stands ready to refute anything Goodling says. Thus, even if she tells the truth, she is in danger of being prosecuted for perjury because someone else remembers things differently.

You ought to read the things I linked to, including Ohio v. Reiner. In that case, a father was tried for the shaking death of his baby. Some experts contended that the baby’s injuries were incurred during the time that the father supervised the children. Other experts contended that the injuries could have occured earlier, when Batt, the babysitter, was in charge. When Batt was called to testify at trial, she refused, claiming the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination. She was granted immunity for her testimony, and thereupon testified that she was innocent and had not injured the child. The father was convicted.

The father then appealed, contending that by granting Batt immunity for her testimony, the prosecutor essentially told the jury that Batt was innocent, which prejudiced the jury against the father. The Supreme Court of Ohio held that because Batt claimed to be innocent, she could not claim a Fifth Amendment privilege and therefore could not have been granted immunity. The US Supreme Court reversed:

So what? Lawyers are paid to make arguments and see if anyone will buy them, and the better the law firm, the more creative the argument.

My assertion was that she did nothing criminal. You can’t use the 5th amendment to protect other people who do something criminal.

Here’s a tip: in order to avoid perjury charges, don’t lie under oath. Also, the 5th amendment is not used to protect perjury. It’s purpose is to prevent self-incrimination; perjury is not self-incrimination and is easily avoided: don’t lie.

If she doesn’t lie, then she’s in the clear, isn’t she? Unless you’re arguing that telling the truth is perjury.

This doesn’t parse. Are the other people lying? And if Libby did nothing wrong, why did the jury convict? Were his lawyers incompetent?

Libby perjured himself. That can be avoided by not lying under oath. It seems to be a pretty simple concept to grasp.

Good law firm (and I meant that sincerely) – using an irrelevant case to bolster their contention. Of course someone who denies culpability can plead the fifth – but that’s not the issue here. No one is even suggesting she is guilty of anything in the firings, since that wasn’t her decision.

She is not put into the untenable position of having to confess to a crime or perjure herself: she is put in the position of having to testify against other person’s crimes or perjure herself. That’s hardly untenable: just don’t lie under oath, and you’re home free.

Here we agree. She has no idea if the questions Congress will ask will incriminate her. It can easily be questions that ask about what Gonzalez did and said in the meetings, without any reference to what she did or said. If she tells the truth, then she has nothing to fear from perjury charges – and the Fifth Amendment is not intended to allow someone to lie when the base issue isn’t criminal. In other words, if you commit a crime, you can use the Fifth Amendment to refuse to answer questions about it, but if you haven’t committed a crime, you can’t use the Fifth Amendment to avoid a perjury charge if you plan to lie.

If Goodling was planning to tell the truth about the situation, she should have nothing to fear. The fifth amendment protects you from self-incrimination, not deciding to perjure yourself.

*Many are finding that Regent’s influence and alumni placements in the current administration outsize its academic record and credentials. *

Oy. Since when is “outsize” a verb?