Balkinization  

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Most Important Question for Tomorrow's AG Hearing

Marty Lederman

The folks over at Talking Points have a pretty good one. But it won't reveal any useful answers (because the AG truly was out of the loop).

For purposes of actually getting to the bottom of the scandal (rather than simply confirming how removed from the process the AG was), here's a better one:

Mr. Attorney General, in your written statement to this Committee, you insist that "[w]e must ensure that all the facts surrounding the situation are brought to full light."

Truer words were never spoken.

Because it is now beyond doubt that officials in the White House had significant involvement in the creation and development of the list that was presented to you -- and because the ultimate decision to remove the U.S. Attorneys was made by the President -- we would need full disclosure of communications within the White House, and between White House and DOJ officials, in order to bring all the relevant facts to "full light."

The President ordinarily does not assert Executive privilege without a recommendation to that effect from the Attorney General. Will you assure us today that you will recommend to the President that he not assert any alleged privilege in order to withhold from Congress communications that occurred within the White House (and in RNC databases) that would shed light on those facts?

Comments:

Ahh, see this is why one hires a lawyer for a job like this.
Very nice question with no wiggle room. Excellent.
 

Too easy. He will just claim that (a) he has yet to study the question (probably true) and is not yet in the position to give an answer and/or (b) he will assert attorney-client and work-product privilege in claiming that he could not answer the question even if he had studied the issue.
 

There is wiggle room. Gonzales answers, "yes, I'll recommend it if he asks." The question and answer alert the White House not to ask, or, if they do ask, they do so to help Gonzales (who, we'll presume, will keep his promise to the committee), with no intention of taking his advice.
 

Alternatively, Gonzales says, "Dorglezark. I really like jelly beans. When do we break for lunch?" After that, everyone on the committee decides he said whatever they thought he meant to say, and nothing happens after that.
 

How about:

"Mr. Attorney General, in your written statement to this Committee, you insist that '[w]e must ensure that all the facts surrounding the situation are brought to full light.' "

And yet here we are again...

If you can't even get the facts straight in a case that involves communications between key people under your direct supervision and the White House, then how can the American people expect you to competently manage 93 federal prosecutors spread out all over the country?
 

I agree with zathras's point (a), but he will then fail to provide an answer at any point in time.
 

Mr. AG,

1. In your official capacity as Attorney General, have you had any discussion with the president, Karl Rove, Scott Jennings or any representative concerning the recent dismissals?

2. Since the DoJ focused on voter fraud, could you bring us up to date on your investigation of the NH Republican phone jamming operations. Did you find any link to the RNC?
 

I think this one is pretty good, but unfortunately there's simply no expectation that Gonzales will answer it honestly. It's not a question where lying in response would expose him to a purgery charge.

He's too brazenly dishonest for this to work, IMO.
 

PLAY HARDBALL! It's the only thing that works! Don't you get it?

Attorney General Gonzales, as the nation's chief law enforcement officer, you obviously know that lying to Congress is a federal offense. Yet even the Republican members of this committee do not find your testimony that you do not remember recent meetings and other events remotely credible. In other words, when you said over and over and over again in your previous testimony that you did not remember certain recent events, we think you were lying.

If you will not resign, why should we not put a special prosecutor in place to assess whether or not you were lying to Congress? If it is found that you were, and you still will not resign, we will impeach you, as you will have brought the stain of dishonor upon the United States of America.
 

First, you must know your "audience."

Keep in mind that: "Great minds discuss ideas. Lesser minds discuss events. Small minds discuss other people."

And so, to query a thug:

"Mr. G., I have here a list of events and circumstances to which you've responded that you "can't recall" or "have no knowledge about."

Suppose for the moment that you did want to recall or gain knowledge about the truth of these matters. Please tells us who exactly -- by name -- you would ask first to get to the bottom of it."

---
 

(I still think "Are you on drugs?" backed up with an immediate urine test is the best response to all these claims of not recalling. It's what working stiffs face, so why not the AG?)
 

Great question in the post.

But I agree with the tone of most commenters: Gonzales will only waste more of our time with any more testimony.

Begin impeachment proceedings now. Put some fear of jail time into him for perjury, lying to Congress, and see if he'll begin to "recall" any helpful details to save his own bacon.
 

The President ordinarily does not assert Executive privilege without a recommendation to that effect from the Attorney General.

Marty, do you have any support for that proposition? I would have thought that a recommendation on that point would really be more of the White House Counsel's bailiwick.
 

Gotta go with Ohio's approach at this point.
 

This comment has been removed by the author.
 

The answer is simple:

"No."

"The only ground upon which I could advise the President to waive his executive privilege is if there was evidence of criminal wrongdoing. In this case, there is no evidence at all of any criminal wrongdoing or even mere impropriety."

"The President has given Congress all the access it needs to ensure the facts of this matter are brought to full light. Although he has no obligation to do so, the President has made available his advisors for interview by members of Congress. I would not advise the President to waive his executive privilege any further."
 

The hearing today was yet another exercise in partisan posturing and inuendo. Where is the beef?

If it is not too much trouble, there is a rather large problem of too few refineries driving gas prices through the roof which a responsible Congress might want to address.
 

How surprising, Bart, that when Gonzales won't answer questions, the hearings don't have much substance to them.

I blame the Democrats.
 

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