Goodling: I've got documents, but you can't have them

The lawyer for Gonzales' former White House liaison says she won't turn over subpoenaed documents unless the Justice Department says it's OK.

Published May 22, 2007 6:06PM (EDT)

Monica Goodling, who served as Alberto Gonzales' liaison to the White House, is scheduled to testify Wednesday before the House Judiciary Committee about her role -- and, presumably, others' -- in the firing of federal prosecutors last year. One catch: The committee still doesn't have all the documents Goodling has, and Goodling's lawyer says she won't hand them over until the Justice Department says she can.

Late last week, the committee served a subpoena in which it demanded that Goodling turn over all documents in her possession regarding the "termination, resignation, hiring, appointment, replacement, formal or informal evaluation or employment interview of United States Attorneys, Assistant United States Attorneys or other Department of Justice employees" -- including, but not limited to, any "communications to or from any White House personnel" relating to those issues and any "representations or preparations of representations" made to members of Congress about them.

In a letter to House Judiciary Committee chairman John Conyers, Goodling's attorney, John Dowd, says that his client has "copies of ... electronic documents and emails" that would be responsive to those requests, "including un-redacted copies of documents produced to date only in redacted form" by the Justice Department. However, Dowd says that Goodling can't give the documents to the committee because Justice Department guidelines prohibit former employees from producing department documents "without prior approval of the proper department official." Dowd says he notified the Justice Department of the Judiciary Committee's document subpoena over the weekend but hasn't heard anything in response yet.

Conyers is not amused. In a letter replying to Dowd today, Conyers cites a number of reasons why the Justice Department regulations in question don't apply in this case, then reminds Dowd and his client that the Justice Department has "repeatedly stated that it intends to cooperate fully" with the congressional investigation into the firing of the U.S. attorneys. Conyers writes -- and we'll assume that he's engaged in a bit of sarcasm here -- that he "cannot imagine" that the department "would at this point object" to Goodling's production of "relevant documents" in her possession.

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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