The turmoil at the Justice Department deepened yesterday, with the sudden resignation of a top aide to Alberto Gonzales – making it more likely than ever that the embattled Attorney General will himself be forced out of his job by the end of this month.
Monica Goodling, the Justice Department’s liaison to the White House, gave no reason for her departure, just two weeks after she refused to answer questions from a congressional committee, invoking her Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination. She is the third senior official to resign in the wake of the firing of eight federal prosecutors last December, and allegations of blatant political interference by the White House in the workings of the US judiciary.
Justice Department documents show Ms Goodling attended numerous meetings about the plans to dismiss the eight US attorneys. She also corresponded with the White House – leading to the issue of a subpoena for Karl Rove, President Bush’s deputy chief of staff and top political adviser, to testify to Congress about his involvement in the affair. “It has been an honour to have served at the Justice Department,” Ms Goodling wrote in her resignation letter to Mr Gonzales.
His service, however, seems unlikely to continue much longer. Several senior Republicans have joined Democrats in calling for Mr Gonzales to be sacked over the firings and for a series of earlier mistakes. His fate hinges on his appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee on 17 April. Mr Gonzales is said to have dropped all his official business to prepare himself.