Turley: 'Pathetic' if Monica Goodling takes fall for Bush officials
David Edwards and Nick Juliano
Published: Tuesday July 29, 2008

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While a recent report on illegal politicization of the Justice Department is a good first step in introducing accountability to the Bush administration, it would be "pathetic" if culpability stops with midlevel aides like Monica Goodling, a constitutional expert says.

Monday's report from the Justice Department's Inspector General and Office of Professional responsibility concluded that Goodling and Kyle Sampson, former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales's chief of staff, acted illegally in eliminating applicants for career department jobs on the basis of political affiliation or sexual orientation.

Calling the Goodling/Sampson efforts "like the Voldemort department of human resources," constitutional law professor Jonathan Turley tells MSNBC's Keith Olbermann that the report offers "a glimpse at just how unhinged the Bush Justice Department became."

Turley says the 146-page report (available here) provides some information that had not previously been disclosed in congressional investigations of the firing of nine federal prosecutors, which is believed to have been politically motivated. But he says more investigation is needed to determine whose idea it was to staff the department almost exclusively with Republican loyalists.

"That would be rather pathetic, wouldn't it, if Monica Goodling was the only one who went off to club fed," Turley said, speculating about the possibility of Goodling being convicted of a federal crime.

Even that possibility, though is a long shot, at least for the next several months. Attorney General Michael Mukasey, a Bush appointee, has refused to pursue contempt of Congress charges against administration figures who have flouted subpoenas demanding testimony, so there's little chance he would pursue perjury or other charges against a former administration official like Goodling.

The White House's silence on the Justice Department report should indicate, perhaps, at least a tacit endorsement of Goodling's tactics, Turley says.

"The question really is why isn't the president coming forward and saying there's a shame factor here at what occurred at the Justice Department," he said. "Alberto Gonzales picked this person, not because of the merits -- she lacked anything on the merits. She was picked because she was an extremist, and this is the result."

This video is from MSNBC's Countdown, broadcast July 28, 2008.

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