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Goodling and other senior Justice Department officials violated federal law

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Guest American for Progress

In March 2007, the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) and the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) began a joint investigation of allegations that in 2006 several United States Attorneys (U.S. Attorneys) were forced to resign for improper reasons, including improper political purposes. We also received an allegation that Monica Goodling, the Department of Justice’s (DOJ or Department) White House Liaison and Senior Counsel to the Attorney General, had discriminated on the basis of political affiliation against a candidate for a career position as an Assistant United States Attorney (AUSA). We therefore expanded our investigation to include the allegation that Goodling inappropriately used political or ideological affiliations in the hiring process for career Department employees.


On May 23, 2007, Goodling testified before the United States House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary pursuant to a grant of immunity issued by the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. In both her written statement and verbal testimony, Goodling acknowledged that she took political considerations into account in assessing candidates for career positions in the Department. Goodling described three categories of such positions.


First, Goodling stated that “n a very small number of cases [regarding AUSAs], I believe that my decisions may have been influenced in part based on political considerations.”


Second, Goodling stated that “n some cases, I learned and considered political information” when assessing career attorneys who applied for temporary detail positions in the Office of the Deputy Attorney General, the Office of Legal Policy, the Office of the Associate Attorney General, the National Security Division, and the Executive Office for United States Attorneys.


Third, Goodling stated that “n reviewing resumes and soliciting applications [for immigration judges and Board of Immigration Appeals members] . . . I sometimes took political considerations into account.”


Goodling added that Office of the Attorney General (OAG) Chief of Staff Kyle Sampson had told her that the Office of Legal Counsel had “provided guidance . . . indicating that Immigration Judge appointments were not subject to the civil service rules applicable to other career positions.”


Goodling testified that she “assumed” that Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) member appointments were also not subject to civil service laws.

As a result of Goodling’s testimony and other information developed during the course of this investigation, we included in the scope of our investigation Goodling’s role in the selection and hiring of candidates for AUSA and other career attorney positions, career attorney details to Department offices, and immigration judge (IJ) and BIA positions. We also examined whether Goodling’s predecessors as the Department’s White House Liaison, Susan Richmond and Jan Williams, and Goodling’s immediate supervisor, OAG Chief of Staff Kyle Sampson, considered political or ideological affiliations when assessing candidates for career positions within the Department.


In addition, during our investigation we learned of allegations that Goodling had discriminated on the basis of rumored sexual orientation against a career Department attorney who had applied for several temporary details. We investigated those allegations as well.


Finally, we investigated whether several witnesses to or subjects of our investigation provided inaccurate or misleading information to us during our investigation or to other Department officials related to the issues in this investigation.




I. Monica Goodling

Goodling graduated from Messiah College in 1995 and received a law degree from the Regent University School of Law in 1999. From 1999 to February 2002, she worked for the Republican National Committee (RNC) where she held the positions of research analyst, senior analyst, and deputy director for research and strategic planning. Among her duties was what she described on her résumé as “a broad range of political research.”


In 2002, Goodling left the RNC to work at the Department, where she held a variety of political positions. From February 2002 to August 2004 she worked in the Office of Public Affairs (OPA) as, successively, Senior Counsel, Deputy Director, and Principal Deputy Director. According to Goodling’s résumé, while at OPA she worked closely with the OAG regarding public communications about the Department’s work, including media events, press releases, speeches, and talking points. In September 2004, Goodling began a 6-month detail as a Special Assistant United States Attorney in the USAO for the Eastern District of Virginia, where she handled criminal felony and misdemeanor cases.


At the conclusion of her detail to the USAO in March 2005, Goodling served in EOUSA as a Schedule C (political appointee) Deputy Director.3 Goodling worked at EOUSA for 9 months until October 2005. According to her résumé, her responsibilities at EOUSA included oversight of and coordination between EOUSA and the USAOs; liaison between the USAOs and Department components; and supervision of various EOUSA legal and administrative staffs handling EOUSA’s legal policy, legislative analysis, legal programs, data analysis, and the unit processing political appointments for U.S. Attorneys. As an EOUSA Deputy Director, Goodling also processed requests by interim U.S. Attorneys to hire AUSAs. These requests from interim U.S. Attorneys, called “waiver” requests, are discussed in detail in Chapter Four.


Goodling was one of two or three EOUSA Deputy Directors (the number varied over time) who reported directly to the Director of EOUSA. When Goodling arrived at EOUSA in March 2005, the Director was Mary Beth Buchanan, who was also serving as the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania. In June 2005, Buchanan was replaced as EOUSA Director by Michael Battle, the former U.S. Attorney for the Western District of New York.


In October 2005, Goodling moved from EOUSA to the OAG, where she remained until she resigned from the Department in April 2007.4 From October 2005 to April 2006, Goodling was Counsel to the Attorney General. In April 2006, she became the Department’s White House Liaison and Senior Counsel to the Attorney General. Goodling’s major responsibility as White House Liaison was to interview and process applicants for political positions in the Department. In that job, she also interviewed and was involved in the selection of career attorneys who were candidates for temporary details to various Department offices, and candidates for immigration judge and Board of Immigration Appeals positions. In addition, Goodling continued to process waiver requests by interim U.S. Attorneys, although neither of her predecessors as White House Liaison, Susan Richmond and Jan Williams, had done so. Goodling’s direct supervisor during her tenure in the OAG was Chief of Staff Kyle Sampson.



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