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Goodling Refuses Request for Judiciary Committee Interview

Justice Department lawyer Monica Goodling today refused a request from the House Judiciary Committee to answer questions in a private interview as the panel investigates the firing of U.S. attorneys.

In a letter dated April 4, her attorneys said that Goodling will insist on invoking her Fifth Amendment rights, despite the committee’s insistence that she be deposed.

Goodling’s attorney, John Dowd, contended that Goodling was entitled to protect herself because of comments made to Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) by Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty. McNulty, Dowd said, told Schumer that Goodling and others did not give him “pertinent” information leading up to McNulty’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

He argued that McNulty’s allegations were “sufficient predicate” for Goodling to assert the Fifth, whether or not his statements to Schumer were accurate.

Furthermore, Dowd added that Goodling’s assertion of the Fifth should not be construed to mean she is anything but innocent. He compared suggestions to the contrary by House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.) and Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) as equivalent to the late Sen. Joseph McCarthy calling those who invoked the Fifth before his committee as “Fifth Amendment Communists.”

In an April 3 letter to Goodling’s attorneys, Conyers and Judiciary subcommittee on commercial and administrative law Chairwoman Linda Sánchez (D-Calif.) said that if Goodling refused to grant the private interview, she may be required to attend a public hearing and invoke the Fifth on a “question-by-question basis.”

Dowd replied that Goodling had not refused to appear, but would invoke her Fifth Amendment rights whether or not the setting was private or public.

The former counsel to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and White House liaison, Goodling is currently on annual leave from the Justice Department.

She is the only Justice official who has so far refused to cooperate with the House and Senate committees seeking to interview top Justice Department officials.

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