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Gonzales Subject of Perjury, Obstruction Probe

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The Senate Judiciary Committee has confirmed that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is now the subject of an investigation concerning his testimony about and dealings with former DOJ employee Monica Goodling, the Washington Post reports.

The Justice Department is investigating whether Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales sought to influence the testimony of a departing senior aide during a March meeting in Gonzales’s office, according to correspondence released today. In a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee, the two officials who are leading an internal Justice Department investigation of the dismissal of nine U.S. attorneys last year said their inquiry includes the Gonzales meeting, which was revealed during testimony last month from former Gonzales aide Monica M. Goodling.

“This is to confirm that the scope of our investigation does include this matter,” wrote Glenn A. Fine, the inspector general, and H. Marshall Jarrett, counsel of the Office of Professional Responsibility.

In his Senate testimony, Gonzales denied that he had conferred with witnesses relevant to the investigation in preparing to testify. Monica Goodling then went out of her way to challenge this statement as false. Gonzales later stated that he “never attempted to influence or shape the testimony or public statements of any witness,” including Goodling, and that his comments “were intended only to comfort her in a very difficult period of her life.”

The ability of the DOJ inspector general and Office of Professional Responsibility to conduct an independent and objective investigation of the man to whom they report directly is of course subject to question. Gonzales previously acknowledged having directly intervened to stop an internal DOJ investigation looking into improper conduct by DOJ attorneys in connection with surveillance programs initiated without the court authorizations required under FISA, a federal criminal statute.

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