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Gonzales aide refusing to testify about US Attorney firings

[JURIST] A senior aide of US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales [official profile; JURIST news archive] has said that she will assert her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination rather than testify regarding the events surrounding the firing of eight US Attorneys [JURIST news archive]. Monica Goodling, the US Justice Department's liaison to the White House, was one of the aides who took part in planning the firings and is currently on a voluntary leave from her position. Her decision to avoid testifying came as a surprise to US Justice officials who promised complete cooperation with the US Senate Judiciary Committee [official website] investigation into the firings. Goodling's attorney, John Dowd, urged her to plead the Fifth Amendment, calling any questioning of his client a "perjury trap" while citing the recent conviction of Lewis Libby [JURIST report] in the CIA leak case [JURIST news archive].

Goodling's announcement coincides with a tour by Gonzales to several states across the US in an attempt to regain his sinking credibility [JURIST report] with US Attorneys and politicians. The US House of Representatives [official website] voted 329-78 [roll call] Monday in favor of limiting Gonzales' power to name interim US attorneys, following a vote by the US Senate [JURIST report] last week to do the same. President Bush has said he has no plans to veto the legislation. AP has more.

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