- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Attorneys for Justice Department official Monica Goodling yesterday accused Democrats of McCarthyism, as the two sides wrangled over whether Ms. Goodling will have to come before Congress publicly to invoke her Fifth Amendment right to refuse to testify.

John M. Dowd, Ms. Goodling’s attorney, said in a letter that comments by House Judiciary Committee Chairman John R. Conyers, Michigan Democrat, and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick J. Leahy, Vermont Democrat, implying that Ms. Goodling is guilty of wrongdoing in the firings of eight U.S. attorneys “are unfortunately reminiscent of Senator Joseph McCarthy.”

Mr. Dowd noted that 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’s exercise of her Fifth Amendment rights can in no way be interpreted to suggest that Ms. Goodling herself participated in any criminal activity,” he said.

Ms. Goodling, 33, 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 firings of eight federal prosecutors last year. She told Mr. Conyers and Mr. Leahy last week that she would invoke her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, citing a “perilous environment in which to testify.”

Mr. Dowd argued in his letter last week, and again yesterday, 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 had done wrong.

On Tuesday, Mr. Conyers wrote 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 to appear before the committee in public if she refused and to force her to take the Fifth to specific questions.

Mr. Dowd fired back in his letter yesterday 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 said in an interview that “the committee can do whatever they want to do” legally, 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.

Melanie Roussell, a House Judiciary Committee spokeswoman, called Mr. Dowd’s charges “bizarre and overheated rhetoric.” She said the panel wants to interview Ms. Goodling in private to “eliminate the need for the public testimony Mr. Dowd claims to be so concerned about.”

“It is also disappointing, in light of earlier pledges of cooperation, that the Justice Department stands idly by while a staff member, still on its payroll, refuses to cooperate with Congress,” she said, adding that “the basis asserted in this letter, that Ms. Goodling has done nothing wrong but nonetheless fears legal jeopardy, is not a valid basis for asserting the Fifth Amendment.”

Also yesterday, one of the private firms chosen by Mr. Conyers to help investigate the Bush administration said it will not take part.

“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 would not lend out two employees as specified in a contract.

The 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 U.S. attorneys were fired. The contract called for D.C. law firm Arnold & Porter to provide the extra lawyers and to subcontract with Deloitte & Touche.

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