With congress on recess this week and the revelations of Monica Goodling's May 23rd testimony long since absorbed and digested by the media, it may feel to some like the U.S. Attorney scandal is just hanging in the air like so much dead weight. President Bush for one is certainly fatigued by the whole thing. “This investigation is taking a long time…” he groaned during a May 24th Rose Garden press conference, “… kind of being drug out.”
We couldn’t have said it better, Mr. President. Thanks to DOJ and White House stonewalling, perpetual story-straightening, and an interminable deluge of I-don’t-recalls (not to mention the seemingly limitless reach of the scandal itself), the investigation doesn’t appear to be wrapping up anytime soon. We give you the rundown of what’s to come in the approaching weeks in today’s episode of TPMtv.
First – there’s the internal Department of Justice investigation. Following Monica Goodling’s testimony before the House Judiciary Committee, the LA Times ran a story late last week explaining that the investigation would expand to address questions of whether Goodling improperly took into account political considerations in hiring employees, particularly applicants to become immigration judges.
The investigation is being conducted by the Inspector General and the Office of Professional Responsibility. Even though it’s going on in the background, it is for the moment the only investigation that has the prospect of leading to criminal charges. If the Inspector General makes a criminal referral, that’s when a special prosecutor would be brought in. We’ll of course keep you posted on any developments.
Next up – the no-confidence vote concerning Alberto Gonzales to be held in the Senate. This is scheduled to take place once the Senate finishes its immigration bill, which means probably the second or third week of June. The resolution itself keeps it short and sweet: "Resolved by the Senate and the House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled: It is the sense of the Senate that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales no longer holds the confidence of the Senate and the American people."
The resolution has no actual, concrete effect; it’s purely symbolic. But if it gets enough votes in the Senate it would simply put more pressure on Bush and Gonzales, potentially to the point of prompting Gonzales to resign. We’ll believe that when we see it.
Last but certainly not least – next week, June 5th, any close follower of the U.S. Attorney scandal will be eagerly anticipating the testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee of two key people. One is Bradley Schlozman, the former U.S. Attorney in Kansas City and former DOJ Civil Rights Division head who’s at the center of the Justice Department’s efforts to suppress minority voter turnout. To make it even more interesting, Schlozman will be joined by the man he replaced in Kansas City, former U.S. Attorney Todd Graves. Graves is the 9th fired U.S. Attorney, canned because he resisted some efforts to purge voter rolls in his state of Missouri.
So this will really be our first opportunity to see cross-examination of witnesses in an effort to get to this core issue in the U.S. Attorney scandal: the campaign to suppress minority voter turnout across the country, particularly in swing states, to help the Republican party win close elections.
Stay tuned for all the latest developments.