Last Tuesday Alberto Gonzales appeared and testified under oath before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Of late one of the hot topics of discussion has been a series of political briefings which were orchestrated by Karl Rove and were delivered in agencies across Washington. Gonzales knew that questions would be asked about this, and sure enough, Senator Edward Kennedy, pointing to examples involving employees from the State Department, Peace Corps and U.S. Agency for International Development, asked whether any of “the leadership of the Department of Justice” had participated in political briefings.
“Not that I’m aware of . . . I don’t believe so, sir,” Gonzales said.
That was also a lie, as the Washington Post discloses this morning in a piece by Dan Eggen and Paul Kane. Gonzales has subsequently acknowledged it as an error, but as usual, he waited to do so until the truth had leaked out, and he was about to be trapped in another perjury.
Justice Department officials attended at least a dozen political briefings at the White House since 2001, including some meetings led by Karl Rove, President Bush’s chief political adviser, and others that were focused on election trends prior to the 2006 midterm contest, according to documents released yesterday.
Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales told the Senate Judiciary Committee last week that he did not believe that senior Justice Department officials had attended such briefings. But he clarified his testimony yesterday in a letter to Congress, emphasizing that the briefings were not held at the agency’s offices.
Internal guidelines forbid partisan meetings at the Justice Department and sharply restrict the ability of employees to participate directly in election campaigns or other political activities, a Justice official said yesterday. But the official, who declined to be identified publicly discussing the issue, said the type of meetings held at the White House did not appear to run afoul of department policy. A list of briefings for Justice officials was included with a letter sent yesterday from Gonzales to Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which sought to clarify and correct parts of his testimony before the panel on July 24. The list was sent to House oversight committee Chairman Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.) in June, but it had not been released publicly before yesterday.