Back on April 19, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales testified, under oath, that he had not spoken with “witnesses” in the U.S. Attorney scandal about the events surrounding the purge because it would have been inappropriate. He told the Senate Judiciary Committee, “I haven’t talked to witnesses because of the fact that I haven’t wanted to interfere with this investigation and department investigations.”
A month later, Monica Goodling, immunity in hand, testified that Gonzales’ claim wasn’t quite right. She described a meeting in March, shortly before she resigned from the Justice Department, in which Gonzales asked her questions that Goodling said made her “uncomfortable.” She told lawmakers that the AG seemed to be trying to compare recollections, so their stories would be consistent if they were questioned about their actions. She testified, “I just thought maybe we shouldn’t have that conversation.”
For Gonzales, this raised the specter of two new problems, to add to an already long list. On the one hand, he may have committed obstruction of justice. On the other hand, he may have lied under oath about it. As Rep. Artur Davis (D-Ala.) noted at the time, “It’s very clear that the attorney general was not fully accurate in his testimony. It was an inappropriate conversation on the attorney general’s own terms.”
Apparently, the Justice Department’s own inspector general and Office of Professional Responsibility agree — they’ve launched an investigation into the Attorney General’s conduct.
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 Attorney General just isn’t having a good year, is he?