Justice Department Liaison to White House Passes the Buck in Attorneys Firing Scandal [VIDEO]

"People like Monica ... were misguided and didn't get it." -- H.E. "Bud" Cummins III, one of the U.S. attorneys dismissed last year.

Monica Goodling went on the offensive during her first day of public testimony before the House Judiciary Committee regarding the firing of eight U.S. attorneys for partisan political reasons on Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' watch.

For some time now Goodling has been seen as a key figure in the growing scandal, since she was Gonzales' liaison with the White House and sat in on several meetings where the firings were discussed. Goodling was granted immunity in the investigation as long as she didn't plead the 5th amendment, which was her original intent.

In her opening statement Goodling attempted to absolve the White House of any responsibility for the firings. "To the best of my knowledge, I never had a conversation with Karl Rove or Harriet Miers while I served at the Department of Justice, and I'm certain I never spoke to either of them about the hiring or firing of any U.S. attorney," Goodling said.

During her testimony she seemed intent on placing as much blame for the firings as possible on former Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty and as little as possible on herself and the White House.

Goodling claims that his statements before the committee were, "incomplete or inaccurate in a number of respects," and that McNulty has not been "fully candid." As the hearings progressed a new Gonzales & Co. tactic for this scandal emerged: Make McNulty the fall guy.

When grilled by Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA) about her decision to take political persuasion into account in her hiring policies, Goodling was at first defensive saying, "I don't believe I intended to commit a crime," but then admitted, "I believe I crossed the line, but I didn't mean to." However, Goodling insists that, "I was responsible more for what happened after the plan was implemented rather than maybe the plan itself." (The clip to your right shows an exchange between Scott and Goodling, where she admits that she "crossed the line" with her conduct.)

The LA Times, in a revealing article published on Wednesday, describe Goodling, 33, as the graduate of a little-known law school that teaches courses on the philosophy of punishing and controlling "sin." The story goes on to suggest that she has come to symbolize just how much the Justice Department has become a political tool of the White House.

Essentially her testimony amounted to more finger pointing, more unanswered questions and the continuation of an ultimately politically disastrous trajectory for the Bush Administration.



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