- The Washington Times - Monday, May 7, 2007

The Justice Department yesterday said it will not oppose the granting of immunity to Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales’ former legal counsel and liaison to the White House, Monica Goodling.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers Jr., Michigan Democrat, said he will hasten the application to a federal judge for Ms. Goodling’s immunity, after which his panel can schedule a hearing with her. Mr. Conyers said he will ask Ms. Goodling about “the possible politicization in the department’s prosecutorial function.”

Ms. Goodling’s attorney, John M. Dowd, said his client will testify and “will be honest and clear, and she’ll work very hard to answer all questions.”

The Justice Department’s decision was relayed by two oversight officials at Justice, Inspector General Glenn A. Fine and H. Marshall Jarrett, legal counsel to the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR).

Mr. Fine’s office and the OPR are already conducting their own investigation into the firing of eight federal prosecutors last year. They are also investigating whether Ms. Goodling improperly screened applicants for federal prosecutor positions for their political affiliations and beliefs.

“As we previously discussed with the committee staff in response to their questions, the OIG/OPR joint investigation is in its early stages, and we intend to take the investigation wherever it leads,” Mr. Fine and Mr. Jarrett said in their letter.

“However, we understand the committee’s interest in obtaining Ms. Goodling’s testimony. Therefore, after balancing the significant congressional and public interest against the impact of the committee’s actions on our ongoing investigation, we will not raise an objection or seek a deferral,” the letter said.

Also yesterday, the Senate Judiciary Committee asked Bradley Schlozman, a former U.S. attorney, to speak with investigators. Lawmakers want to question him about a voter-fraud lawsuit he filed against Missouri in November 2005.

Committee members said they wanted to know whether U.S. Attorney Todd Graves of Kansas City, Mo., was forced out for not endorsing that lawsuit, which was ultimately dismissed. Mr. Graves resigned from his post in March 2006, and Mr. Schlozman replaced him as interim U.S. attorney.

• This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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