New Justice Department communications released tonight include an email from Monica Goodling, former counsel to Alberto Gonzales, directing another official to draw up a directive giving her unprecedented authority to hire and fire political staffers. Goodling tells the official, assistant attorney general Paul Corts, to “send [it] directly up to me, outside the system.”
Read the exchange:
The authority Goodling was requesting in this January 2006 exchange was first reported by Murray Waas last month in the National Journal. Waas detailed how Alberto Gonzales had “signed a highly confidential order in March 2006 delegating to two of his top aides” — Goodling and then-chief of staff Kyle Sampson — “extraordinary authority over the hiring and firing of most non-civil-service employees of the Justice Department.”
The memo suggested “a broad effort was under way by the White House to place politically and ideologically loyal appointees throughout the Justice Department, not just at the U.S.-attorney level.” During testimony last month, Goodling admitted that she had “taken inappropriate political considerations into account” while hiring career employees at the Department.
In his article, Waas quoted a senior Justice Department official “who did not know of Gonzales’s delegation of authority until contacted by National Journal” but who “said that it posed a serious threat to the integrity of the criminal-justice system.” Now we know why the senior official didn’t know about it — because Goodling sought to keep it “outside the system.”