Posted Apr 25, 2007 07:56 pm CDT
A Congressional panel voted Wednesday to grant immunity from prosecution to a lawyer who as formerly a top aide to U.S. Attorney Alberto Gonzales, forcing her to testify about the controversial firings of eight U.S. attorneys. Monica Goodling had previously said she would take the Fifth Amendment if required to testify.
The House Judiciary Committee voted 32-6 for the immunity grant, reports Fox News, with six Republicans opposed. However, the immunity grant will not take effect, according to committee Chairman John Conyers, D-Mich., until he decides to issue Goodling a subpoena compelling her to testify.
Meanwhile, in a follow-up to last week’s testimony by Gonzales before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., who chairs the committee, and Arlen Specter, R-Pa., its ranking Republican, sent a letter to Gonzales. The letter, which requests a response from the attorney general within a week, says Gonzales “hampered” the committee’s investigation by not answering 100 questions at the hearing, Fox reports.
For more details, see this Washington Post article.
The controversy concerns the firings of eight U.S. attorneys, allegedly as a political purge punishing them – and serving as a cautionary example to others – because they weren’t sufficiently loyal to prosecutorial policies favored by the White House. Traditionally, while the executive branch appoints federal prosecutors, it does not seek to influence their decision-making by removing them from office.