The Senate Judiciary Committee revealed today that the Justice Department’s Inspector General Glenn Fine is investigating whether Attorney General Alberto Gonzales may have acted unethically or illegally by attempting to "coach" Monica Goodling’s testimony.
As we all should know AG Gonzales set a new land-speed record for "I don't recall" during his own Congressional testimony on the Attorney firings matter. He justified this lack of recollection by claiming that...
I haven't talked to any of the witnesses
...which would have been his own staff, regarding the matter. However as was revealed during Monica Goodling's testimony to the House - he did speak with her. And even a crack justice expert like Monica didn't think it...
was appropriate for us to talk at that point.
Apparently neither does the DOJ's Inspector General.
Responding to a letter from Sen. Leahy regarding this matter, Fine responded.
In your letter, you referred to Monica Goodling’s testimony before the House Judiciary Committee on May 23, 2007, in which she stated that she had a meeting with the Attorney General in which the process leading to the removal of certain U.S. Attorneys was discussed. You asked whether our investigation includes this matter.
This is to confirm that the scope of our investigation does include this matter.
Let me just say that this just might mean that Alberto Gonzales may be in early stage Libby mode, because Obstruction of Justice happens to be one of the charges that will be putting him behind bars for 30 months.
If carried through to it's full conclusion, this investigation could very easily lead to a Grand Jury and indictment of Gonzales, but before we get too optimistic that this little barnicle might be removed from the Halls of Justice we have to remember what an outstanding job the DOJ has done at investigating itself so far.
Pat Leahy certainly has his doubts.
The last time an internal investigation at the Department of Justice got too close for comfort the White House shut it down. I hope this investigation will not suffer the same fate as the OPR inquiry into the warrantlesss wiretapping program. This internal investigation is an important step in getting to the truth behind this matter, and they should be allowed to do their jobs without interference from this Administration.
That OPR investigation which was intended to determine if the information which had been gathered via the NSA's domestic spying program had been misused was derailed by a lack of security access. Access which had been denied - according to Testimony by Alberto Gonzales - under the discretion and direction of the President.
But despite this I happen to feel that there are reasons for optimism that some measure of justice just might be implemented. Unlike the NSA case, security clearances are not at issue in the DOJ Attorney firing situation - so that avenue of blockages is closed. Secondly the FBI's own internal investigation - which parralleled the OPR's attempted audit - looked into the use and abuse of national security letters and discovered that the agency had potentially violated the law and it's own rules more than 1000 times.
And this was from only a sample of just ten percent of their domestic spying cases.
Just as the FBI wasn't able to block this audit, I think it's unlikely that DOJ will be able to block the efforts of it's own Inspector General as Leahy suggests.
But then again, with the Administration, practically anything seems possible and highly probable particular when it involves covering up for the President's misdeeds.
As some of us might not recall, one of the suggested articles for the Impeachment of Bill Clinton supplied by Kenneth Starr to the House judiciary commitee was the allegation that Clinton had attempted to Witness Tamper and Obstuct Justice with his secretary Betty Currie by questioning her regarding the other Monica immediately after his own deposition in the Jones case - even though Betty Currie was not a witness in that case and at that time Starr did not have authority to investigate Lewinsky (even though he already was). With this precedent in place, the House juduciary committee already has plenty of evidence to Impeach Gonzales for Contempt of Congress, Obstruction and attempted Witness Tampering with This Monica.
How ironic would that be?