Monica Goodling, counsel to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and White House liaison, resigned from the Justice Department on Friday, her attorneys confirmed.
She is the second top-level staffer to leave the department amid the chaos surrounding the U.S. attorneys scandal. Gonzales’ chief of staff, Kyle Sampson, also resigned and recently testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Goodling was on annual leave from the department before she departed.
Goodling’s resignation comes amid sparring with the House Judiciary Committee over her decision to take the Fifth Amendment and refuse to answer the committee’s questions. Her attorney, John Dowd, and Judiciary Chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.) exchanged a series of tense letters this week in which Conyers threatened to call Goodling before a public hearing, and Dowd replied by insisting Goodling was innocent but would assert her Fifth Amendment rights.
The House and Senate Judiciary committees still are negotiating to get senior Justice staffers to voluntarily testify before the committee. Goodling is the only staffer to have asserted her Fifth Amendment rights so far.
“Attorney General Gonzales’s hold on the Department gets more tenuous each day, ” said Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) in a statement.