And all that bad news could get a whole lot worse in a big hurry.
The confrontation between Congress and the Bush administration over the dismissal of eight U.S. attorneys escalated again yesterday as Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee said they are weighing an offer of immunity to a potential key witness in the investigation.
At the same time, the Republican National Committee yesterday turned down congressional demands that it hand over e-mails related to the firings, angering Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.).
Frustrated by Monica M. Goodling's refusal to testify, committee Democrats said they may grant limited-use immunity to the former counsel to Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales.
Giving Goodling immunity would be about the worst case scenario for Team Bush. Goodling has complained that testifying would be a 'perjury trap.' I'm not sure how that works -- if you just tell the truth, you're safe. It's pretty damned hard to force someone to lie.
Of course, Goodling was pleading the fifth because she knew she couldn't tell the truth and not admit to committing a crime -- this whole 'perjury trap' business was spin and BS. Giving her immunity removes the only excuse she has, which puts Gonzo in a real bad place. Writes John Nichols:
Gonzales is finished. The best he can accomplish is a stay of execution that would allow him to remain at the Department of Justice until the controversy dies down enough for him to quietly slip out the back door late on one of those Friday afternoons when the Bush administration gets rid of its embarrassments. Were Gonzales to be allowed to remain in his position through the remainder of Bush's term, it would make America over as a land without laws or even the barest sense of propriety.
I couldn't agree more. Gonzales is so screwed. But he may not be the only one. George W. Bush may be in on this one. McClatchy reported that the email trail may lead straight into the Oval Office. "New details emerging from Justice Department interviews and e-mails suggest that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and perhaps President Bush were more active than they've acknowledged in the firings last year of eight U.S. attorneys, lawmakers said Monday," the report reads.
Gonzales says he doesn't remember this, while the president 'has a vague recollection' of it, according to spokeswoman Dana Perino. 'I can't recall' is a prime example of plausible deniability -- how's anyone going to prove otherwise? 'Beyond a shadow of a doubt' is the same as the benefit of the doubt and, unless you can prove otherwise, you're kind of stuck taking them at their word, no matter how ridiculous that may seem. Not remembering a crime, however, is not the same as not committing a crime. It's Goodling who seems to have the proof that a crime was committed.
Whether Goodling is such a freakin' robot that she'll continue to protect these people long after there's any reason to do so is an open question. I guess we'll see. Coming from Pat Robertson's Matchbook U, she may be as brainwashed as any cultist. But it wouldn't be the first time that someone's weird belief system fell apart when they were faced with real world consequences. Ollie North folded like a lawn chair in a similar situation.
The worst case scenario here for us is that Gonzales ends his career in Bush administration and becomes a talking head on FOX, explaining the legal technicalities involved with Paris Hilton's parking tickets.
I think I could live with that. Gone is gone.
Technorati tags: politics; Justice Department; scandal; crime; Bush and Gonzales are pinning all their hopes on Monica Goodling -- who might get immunity