You've all undoubtedly heard that the joint IG/OPR investigation at DOJ has expanded to include Alberto Gonzales for his
attempt to coach Monica Goodling's testimony inappropriate conversation with Monica Goodling.
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.
I just wanted to make a few points about this news. First, it's not really clear whether IG/OPR expanded the investigation of their own accord. Leahy and Scottish Law nudge DOJ to find out whether the investigation included Goodling's testimony on June 5. And now (rather, yesterday), 8 days later, DOJ writes back saying only,
This is to confirm that the scope of our investigation does include this matter.
Not, "oh yeah, we expanded it to include Goodling as soon as she testified on May 23," not "we have been investigating this matter." Which I take to say only that they are as of yesterday, June 13, investigating the matter.
No wonder Leahy was so quick to suggest that DOJ's investigations of Gonzales don't always get to proceed as real investigations.
The last time an internal investigation at the Department of Justice got too close for comfort the White House shut it down. I hope this investigation will not suffer the same fate as the OPR inquiry into the warrantlesss wiretapping program. This internal investigation is an important step in getting to the truth behind this matter, and they should be allowed to do their jobs without interference from this Administration.
(Not to mention the fact that IG, which can refer an investigation for criminal prosecution, only got involved after IG and Chuck Rosenberg pointed out that OPR doesn't have jurisdiction here--there is reason to be suspicious.)
But I'd also like to point out how this news precariously rests on Scooter Libby's shoulders. For the next eight weeks, at least, a bunch of high-priced lawyers are going to argue desperately that Patrick Fitzgerald's appointment was improper. An appointment structured specifically to keep the Attorney General out of things. And so, even as DOJ's IG/OPR investigation moves reluctantly forward with its investigation, it's unclear how, if Libby's appeal wins big, we could even pursue charges against Gonzales. If Fitzgerald's appointment is thrown out, it'd take an act of Congress to gain the right to conduct an investigation free of the oversight of Paul Clement, the Solicitor General, who in turn reports to Alberto Gonzales.
Barring impeachment, that is.