- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Monica M. Goodling, former White House liaison for Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, admitted during congressional testimony yesterday that she acted improperly when screening Justice Department job applicants for their political affiliation.

“I may have gone too far in asking political questions of applicants for career positions, and I may have taken inappropriate political considerations into account on some occasions, and I regret those mistakes,” Miss Goodling said.

She also said that Deputy Attorney General Paul J. McNulty did not fully inform Congress about the White House’s role in the firing of eight federal prosecutors last year.

Mr. McNulty, however, issued a statement calling Miss Goodling’s charges “wrong,” and sources close to Mr. McNulty denounced the testimony as “completely false.”

Miss Goodling was compelled to testify before the House Judiciary Committee because a federal judge granted her immunity at the panel’s request. She had invoked her Fifth Amendment right to avoid self-incrimination when first called to testify last month.

Miss Goodling said she interviewed “hundreds of job applicants” during her five years with the Department of Justice.

“The vast majority of these were applicants for political appointee positions.”

Democrats rebuked her for being too loyal to the Bush administration, but Republicans commended her and decried the U.S. attorneys investigation as a “fishing expedition.” Democrats have charged that some of the attorneys were fired because they were investigating Republican officials or were unwilling to investigate Democratic officials.

Miss Goodling, who resigned from the Justice Department in April, said she was “not aware of anybody within the department ever suggesting the replacement of these U.S. attorneys to interfere with a particular case or in retaliation for prosecuting or refusing to prosecute any particular case for political advantage.”

However, she did say that Mr. Gonzales spoke with her about the firings in mid-March, despite several statements by the attorney general that he has not spoken with other fact witnesses about the matter.

Miss Goodling said her role in the firings has been exaggerated and that her role was to help implement the firings. She said she had little input on deciding who should be dismissed.

“I did not hold the keys to the kingdom, as some have suggested,” she said.

Miss Goodling began her testimony by defending herself against a charge, reportedly made by Mr. McNulty to a Democratic senator, that she did not fully inform the deputy attorney general about White House involvement in the firings.

“The allegation is false. I did not withhold information from the deputy,” Miss Goodling said. “Despite my and others’ best effort, the deputy’s public testimony was incomplete or inaccurate in a number of respects.”

Mr. McNulty announced his resignation from the Justice Department last week.

Miss Goodling said Mr. McNulty knew that Bush administration officials were involved in deciding which U.S. attorneys should be dismissed and said he “was not fully candid” in congressional testimony in February.

Although she insisted that the White House signed off on which prosecutors should be dismissed, Miss Goodling said she did not know the extent of involvement in the matter by presidential adviser Karl Rove or White House Counsel Harriet Miers.

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