Is Alberto Gonzales Approaching His Wolfowitz Moment?


Paul Wolfowitz’s moment of truth and (effectively) his firing, wasn’t
even remotely connected to paying big bucks to his girlfriend. Wolfie’s
real downfall was predicated on gross mismanagement at the World Bank
and, as usually happens with a mis-manager, the thorough trashing of
subordinates.

Paulwolfowitz2
Paul Wolfowitz’s moment of truth and (effectively) his firing, wasn’t
even remotely connected to paying big bucks to his girlfriend. Wolfie’s
real downfall was predicated on gross mismanagement at the World Bank
and, as usually happens with a mis-manager, the thorough trashing of
subordinates.

Decoded, Wolfowitz was brought down by no one left to speak up–a bizarre reversal of ‘we will stand down as they stand up.’

So, Dan Eggen’s article in today’s Washington Post is prescient;

The
Justice Department is investigating whether Attorney General Alberto R.
Gonzales sought to influence the testimony of a departing senior aide
during a March meeting in Gonzales’s office, according to
correspondence released today.

In a letter to the Senate
Judiciary Committee, the two officials who are leading an internal
Justice Department investigation of the dismissal of nine U.S.
attorneys last year said their inquiry includes the Gonzales meeting,
which was revealed during testimony last month from former Gonzales
aide Monica M. Goodling.

"This is to confirm that the scope of
our investigation does include this matter," wrote Glenn A. Fine, the
inspector general, and H. Marshall Jarrett, counsel of the Office of
Professional Responsibility.

The disclosure could represent a
serious legal threat to the embattled attorney general. Fine’s office
is empowered to refer matters for criminal prosecution if warranted.

Perhaps you read that with eyes half closed, as did I. Yeah, Justice investigating itself—big deal. The part about Fine’s office being empowered and the possibility of criminal prosecution, both residing within the same sentence, got my attention.

Glennfine
Glenn Fine is a non-partisan (as nearly as any of us can claim that
distinction) Inspector General, elevated to that position from inside the Justice Department during the Clinton administration.
Fine
appears not to be a guy who is likely to roll over politically. The
parsing of details comes down to a meeting between Gonzales and Monica
Golding, prior to her testimony before the Monicagoodling2
Senate.

Goodling
testified that Gonzales had laid out his general recollection of events
surrounding the prosecutor dismissals during a meeting between the two
in March, as Goodling was preparing to leave the department. Gonzales
asked whether Goodling "had any reaction to his iteration," and she
said the conversation made her "a little uncomfortable" because of
ongoing investigations into the issue, according to her testimony.

"I
didn’t know that it was maybe appropriate for us to talk about that at
that point, and so I just didn’t," Goodling testified. "As far as I can
remember, I just didn’t respond."

Gonzales has said in a
statement that he "never attempted to influence or shape the testimony
or public statements of any witness," including Goodling, and that his
comments "were intended only to comfort her in a very difficult period
of her life."

An ‘iteration’ (as compared to comforting) is a repetition
and a lawyer asking another lawyer if they had any ‘reaction’ to their
iteration is perilously close to inquiring as to whether they think
they’re being coached. That would be a no-no and it could be a criminal
no-no, depending upon what was said–and if the possibility of perjury was sneaking around anywhere inside that ‘iteration.’

SenpatrickleahyRepublicans
and particularly the White House have been pressing the opinion that
Senator Patrick Leahy, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has
been on nothing more than a partisan Democratic a fishing expedition.

In their view, the president can hire and fire U.S. Attorneys at will. Which is true. What Gonzales may not do
is to use the Justice Department for partisan political purposes. He
also may not act illegally when dealing with Leahy’s committee.

So far, Alberto has gotten by with a failed memory, an altogether
missing sense of personal shame and total disregard for the good of the
department which he was chosen to run. Chosen by the president and
confirmed by the very Senate that just came within a whisker of
painting him with a ‘no confidence’ vote.

Bushgonzales
It’s been a sad and ugly performance thus far, but Gonzales is very
nearly Bush’s last standing nominee—at least the last one that is
personally close to him. If George Bush can brazen this one out (and he
thinks he can), he will certainly do it. He’ll ride it out, no matter
the cost to the reputation of the Justice Department or (for what
little reputation is left) his own.

But Wolfowitz, another of the long list of departed who enjoyed the
‘full confidence’ of the president, ultimately left the World Bank
because the employees hated his guts and hated what he was doing to
their institution.

Justice’s Mission Statement reads;

To enforce
the law and defend the interests of the United States according to the
law; to ensure public safety against threats foreign and domestic; to
provide federal leadership in preventing and controlling crime; to seek
just punishment for those guilty of unlawful behavior; and to ensure
fair and impartial administration of justice for all Americans.

Theirs is a proud tradition of separation from politics. Justice has ten times
as many employees as the World Bank and they are, through no fault of
their own, white-hot with shame over how their institution has been
dragged through the slime of Alberto Gonzales’ ethical failures. All of
Alberto’s top people have resigned. That’s a mirror of the resignations
surrounding Wolfowitz, except for the fact that the Justice
resignations go Albertogonzalesdeeper to the bone.


Gonzales told the Senate Judiciary Committee in April that he had not
talked to any potential witnesses about the firings "because of the
fact that I haven’t wanted to interfere with this investigation and
department investigations."

It will be
interesting to see if an internal investigation by the Inspector
General of the Justice Department is able to do what the Congress of
the United States has thus far been unable to accomplish.

112,500 federal employees at Justice are hoping, this time, for justice.

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