Correction to This Article
A graphic with a May 24 Page One article about Monica M. Goodling, former senior counsel to Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, incorrectly attributed remarks from a February Senate hearing to Deputy Attorney General Paul J. McNulty. It was Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) who said at the hearing: "In the summer of 2006, my office was told by reliable sources in the Arkansas legal and political community that then-U.S. Attorney Bud Cummins was resigning and the White House would nominate Mr. Tim Griffin as his replacement. I asked the reasons for Mr. Cummins's leaving and was informed that he was doing so to pursue other opportunities. ..... [By August, it was] becoming clear that Mr. Cummins was being forced out, contrary to what my office had been told by the administration." McNulty made remarks on the same subject at the hearing. In response to inquiries about how Tim Griffin, an aide to Karl Rove, President Bush's chief political adviser, was put in the job on an interim basis, McNulty said, "I don't know the answers to those questions." Goodling told Congress this week that she had kept McNulty informed about Griffin.

Goodling Says She 'Crossed the Line'

"I do acknowledge that I may have gone too far in asking political questions of applicants for career positions," Monica Goodling testified. (By Chip Somodevilla -- Getty Images)
By Dan Eggen and Paul Kane
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, May 24, 2007

A former senior aide to Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales leveled serious new accusations against him and his deputy yesterday, describing an "uncomfortable" attempt by Gonzales to discuss the firings of U.S. attorneys as Congress and the Justice Department were intensifying their investigations of the issue.

Monica M. Goodling, who resigned last month as Gonzales's senior counselor and White House liaison, also told the House Judiciary Committee yesterday that she "crossed the line" by using political criteria in hiring a wide array of career professionals at Justice, including looking up political donations by some applicants.

In a day-long hearing that afforded her immunity from prosecution, Goodling minimized her role in the controversial firings of nine U.S. attorneys last year and joined a long line of Justice officials who say they were not responsible for adding names to the lists of those to be dismissed.

But Goodling's appearance also opened broad new avenues of inquiry for congressional Democrats, who think Gonzales has presided over intensifying political meddling at the Justice Department. It also provided fresh evidence of the deepening rifts between current and former Justice officials, who have increasingly turned on one another since the prosecutor firings.

Goodling, 33, alleged that Deputy Attorney General Paul J. McNulty was "not fully candid" with Congress about his knowledge of White House involvement in the firings. McNulty, who tendered his resignation last week, disputed that.

Under intensive questioning from Rep. Artur Davis (D-Ala.), Goodling also described a mid-March meeting with Gonzales that began as a discussion of her future at Justice but ended with talk about the U.S. attorneys' firings.

"Let me tell you what I can remember," he said, according to her account.

"He laid out for me his general recollection . . . of some of the process" of the firings and then asked "if I had any reaction to his iteration," Goodling said.

She said the conversation made her "a little uncomfortable" because she knew that she, Gonzales and others would be asked to testify before Congress.

"Do you think, Ms. Goodling, the attorney general was trying to shape your recollection?" Davis asked.

Goodling paused, then said: "No . . . I just did not know if it was a conversation that we should be having, and so I just -- just didn't say anything."

She added that she thought Gonzales was only "being kind."

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