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Gonzales aide to stay silent on US Attorney firings

[JURIST] Monica M. Goodling, on leave from her post as special counsel to the US Attorney General, told the House Judiciary Committee [JURIST report] on Tuesday that she will not speak to the committee about her role in last year's firing of eight US attorneys [JURIST news archive]. Committee members said that a voluntary interview would forgo the need to subpoena Goodling, but Goodling's lawyer stated that even if she was subpoenaed before the committee, she would claim protection under the Fifth Amendment. Some House representatives doubt her ability to do so, stating that "her claims do not constitute a valid basis for invoking the privilege against self-incrimination." Goodling has said previously that she will refuse to testify [JURIST report] before Congressional committees, indicating that she would plead the Fifth Amendment if called to speak.

Senate Democrats have rejected attempts by the White House to advance the date that US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales [official profile; JURIST news archive] is scheduled to testify on the firings. Gonzales defended his role [JURIST report] in the firings on Friday, admitting that there has been some confusion, but saying that his involvement in the matter was limited to signing off on recommendations made by his former chief of staff Kyle Sampson [official profile]. Sampson, who resigned last month [DOJ press release], told the Senate Judiciary Committee last week that the prosecutors were fired for political reasons [JURIST report] rather than for poor performance as the Justice Department has claimed [JURIST report]. Sampson also said Gonzales did more than merely follow his recommendations, and that Gonzales and former White House counsel Harriet Miers [official profile] were deeply involved in the firings. AP has more. The Boston Globe has additional coverage.

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