- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Attorneys for top Justice Department official Monica Goodling today accused Democrats of McCarthyism, as the two sides wrangled over whether Ms. Goodling [-] who has invoked her Fifth Amendment rights [-] will be forced to come before Congress and in public refuse to testify.

“Ms. Goodling’s exercise of her Fifth Amendment rights can in no way be interpreted to suggest that Ms. Goodling herself participated in any criminal activity,” John M. Dowd, Ms. Goodling’s attorney, wrote to House Judiciary Committee Chairman John R. Conyers, Michigan Democrat.

Mr. Dowd then said that comments by Mr. Conyers and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, Vermont Democrat, implying that Ms. Goodling is guilty, “are unfortunately reminiscent of Senator Joseph McCarthy.”

Mr. Dowd said that Mr. McCarthy, a Wisconsin Republican who served in the Senate from 1947 to 1957, called people “Fifth Amendment Communists” when they asserted their Fifth Amendment rights during his investigation into communists in the U.S. government.

Ms Goodling is legal counsel to Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, but she has taken a paid leave of absence as Democrats investigate her role in the firing of eight federal prosecutors last year.

Ms. Goodling, 33, informed Mr. Conyers and Mr. Leahy last week that she would invoke her Fifth Amendment rights to avoid self-incrimination, citing a “perilous environment in which to testify.”

Mr. Dowd argued in his letter last week, and again today, that Deputy Attorney General Paul J. McNulty had made false accusations against Ms. Goodling to members of Congress, and that some Democratic lawmakers already assumed she was guilty of wrongdoing.

Mr. Conyers wrote yesterday to Mr. Dowd asking Ms. Goodling to meet with his staff in private and discuss “what we believe are inappropriate considerations for the invocation of the Fifth Amendment.”

The letter threatened to subpoena Ms. Goodling before the committee in public if she refused to meet in private, and to force her to take the Fifth to a number of specific questions.

Mr. Dowd fired back in his letter today that “the sole legitimate purpose of this committee’s investigation is to gather facts, not to humiliate witnesses who choose to exercise their constitutional rights.”

Mr. Dowd also said in an interview that legally, “the committee can do whatever they want to do,” but that his letter was an “appeal to their practical side and best side.”

“If they want to run a circus they can run a circus,” Mr. Dowd said.

He said that if Democrats call Ms. Goodling before a public hearing, and force her to take the Fifth there, that will be “regarded as punishment and humiliating and wrong.”

Spokespersons for Mr. Conyers and Mr. Leahy have so far not responded to requests for comment.

Democrats say they want to determine if any of the federal prosecutors were dismissed to block corruption probes into Republican lawmakers, but have so far found no evidence of any such wrongdoing.

Also today, one of the private law firms chosen by Mr. Conyers to help investigate the Bush administration said they have chosen not to take part in the probe.

“The House Judiciary Committee did approach us. However, we declined this engagement,” Jeffrey Zack, a spokesman for Deloitte & Touche, told The Washington Times.

Mr. Zack declined to comment on why Deloitte & Touche chose not to lend out two employees specified in the contract.

The Washington Times first reported last week that Mr. Conyers agreed to pay up to $225,000 to bring in extra lawyers for his investigation of why the eight US. attorneys were fired.

The contract, which was obtained by The Times, called for D.C. law firm Arnold & Porter to provide the extra attorneys, and to subcontract with Deloitte & Touche.


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