Goodling Granted Immunity in Attorney Firings Probe

By Dan Eggen
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, May 11, 2007; 3:16 PM

A federal judge today ordered a former aide to Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales to testify in Congress about the firings of U.S. attorneys, granting her limited immunity from prosecution so she can tell lawmakers what she knows.

Under the order from U.S. District Chief Judge Thomas F. Hogan of the District of Columbia, Monica M. Goodling "may not refuse to testify, and may not refuse to provide other information" if asked by Congress.

The ruling clears the way for Goodling's testimony before the House Judiciary Committee on the dismissal of nine U.S. attorneys last year, which has sparked a furor in Congress. The committee extended the offer of immunity in response to Goodling's refusal to testify or answer questions from congressional investigators.

"Monica Goodling is a critical witness to this ongoing investigation," House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) said in a statement. "We look forward to hearing her testimony as promptly as possible."

Goodling, who resigned last month as Gonzales's senior counselor and White House liaison, invoked her Fifth Amendment right against self incrimination, citing allegations from senior Justice officials that she may have played a role in providing false information to Congress.

Goodling could provide crucial new details about the U.S. attorney firings, which came after nearly two years of discussion between the White House and senior Justice aides, including Goodling.

Goodling's attorneys have said she would comply with any order to testify or cooperate with investigators. Hogan's order says that "no testimony or other information compelled under this order . . . may be used against" Goodling, except for prosecutions of perjury or giving a false statement.

Justice officials have said Goodling is also the subject of an internal investigation of whether she violated federal law or department policies by considering political affiliation in the hiring of career prosecutors in some districts.

© 2007 The Washington Post Company