WASHINGTON - Monica Goodling, the Department of Justice official who said Monday that she'll invoke the Fifth Amendment rather than talk to lawmakers, is a frequent figure in department e-mails released so far as part of the congressional investigation into the firings and hirings of U.S. attorneys.
Goodling, 33, is a 1995 graduate Messiah College in Grantham, Pa., an institution that describes itself as "committed to an embracing evangelical spirit."
She received her law degree at Regent University in Virginia Beach, Va. Regent, founded by Christian broadcaster Pat Robertson, says its mission is "to produce Christian leaders who will make a difference, who will change the world."
E-mails show that Goodling was involved in planning the dismissals and in later efforts to limit the negative reaction. As the Justice Department's liaison to the White House, she could shed light on the extent of White House involvement in the dismissals.
Goodling took a leading role in making sure that Tim Griffin, a protege of presidential adviser Karl Rove, replaced H.E. "Bud" Cummins as the U.S. attorney in Arkansas. Documents released to Congress include communications between Goodling and Scott Jennings, Rove's deputy.
In an Aug. 18, 2006, e-mail to Kyle Sampson, then Gonzales' chief of staff, Goodling warned of potential political problems with Griffin's appointment and underscored White House interest in getting it done.
"We have a senator prob, so while wh is intent on nominating, scott thinks we may have a confirmation issue," Goodling wrote.
At Jennings' request, documents show, Goodling agreed to meet last summer with two Republican activists from New Mexico who felt that U.S. Attorney David Iglesias wasn't doing enough to pursue allegations of voter fraud by Democrats. Iglesias believes the issue was a key factor in his firing.
In a June 20 e-mail, Jennings asked Goodling to arrange a Justice Department meeting for New Mexico Republican Mickey Barnett, who came to Washington with Paul Rogers, another GOP activist.
"It is sensitive - perhaps you should do it," Jennings suggested.
"Happy to do so," Goodling replied. A copy of her daily planner, which was provided to congressional investigators, shows that she met with the two the next day.
Goodling also appears to have been influential in preventing the ouster of U.S. Attorney Gretchen Shappert in western North Carolina. When Shappert's name appeared on a list of targeted prosecutors in September 2006, Goodling recommended that she be left alone.
"There are plenty of others there to start with," Goodling wrote, "and I don't think she merits being included in that group at this time."
Shappert kept her job.