The Senate’s no-confidence vote on Attorney General Alberto Gonzales will be held in mid-June, Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) announced today.
During the press conference, Whitehouse, a former U.S. Attorney himself, said that Gonzales may have obstructed justice when he tried to “shape” Monica Goodling’s testimony during a meeting prior to her hearing yesterday. (ThinkProgress raised this possibility yesterday.)
Asked about Goodling’s meeting with Gonzales, Whitehouse told reporters, “It is surprising how often a whiff of obstruction of justice has reared its head in the course of this investigation.” He said the “standard of impropriety that Kyle Sampson and the attorney general and the Department of Justice, through its public spokesmen, have defined is, in effect — tracks almost exactly the standard for criminal obstruction of justice.”
Gonzales may also be guilty of lying under oath. His conversation with Goodling took place on either March 14 or 15, a week after Goodling found out that she was going to testify before the House committee. Yet on May 10, Gonzales told the Senate Judiciary Committee that he had “not gone back and spoken directly with…others who are involved in this process.”
UPDATE: AmericaBlog has the text of the no-confidence resolution.
SCHUMER: We’ll let former U.S. Attorney Whitehouse answer that one.
WHITEHOUSE: I don’t know enough about what actually took place to characterize it. But it is surprising how often a whiff of obstruction of justice has reared its head in the course of this investigation.
It happened first when I asked the four U.S. attorneys at the hearing what they would have done if a witness of theirs had been approached in the way that the Department of Justice staffer approached Cummins and them about their testimony in Congress.
And they said: Well, what we would do is we would open investigations. And I said: Well, what kind? And they said: Well, into this conduct. And I said: For what law? And they said: Well, obstruction of justice.
The standard of impropriety that Kyle Sampson and the attorney general and the Department of Justice, through its public spokesmen, have defined is, in effect — tracks almost exactly the standard for criminal obstruction of justice.
So if we were to look more into the specifics of that conversation and we found that it was, again, in the area of obstruction of justice, it would come as no surprise. There’s been the cloud of that hanging over this entire investigation.