He did an outstanding job questioning Monica Goodling yesterday, getting her to admit that her old boss- AG Alberto Gonzalez – lied to congress and tried to influence her testimony.
GOODLING: I had decided that I couldn’t continue working on his staff because of the circumstances. I felt that I was somewhat paralyzed. I just felt like I — I was distraught. And I felt that I wanted to make a transfer. So I went back to ask him if it would be possible for me to transfer out of his office. He said that he would need to think about that. And I think he was, you know, trying to, you know, just trying to chat. I was on his staff. But he then proceeded to say, “Let me tell you what I can remember.” And he kind of — he laid out for me his general recollection of…
DAVIS: Recollection of what, Ms. Goodling?
GOODLING: Of some of the process.
DAVIS: Some of the process regarding what?
GOODLING: Some of the process regarding the replacement of the U.S. attorneys. And he — he just — he laid out a little bit of it, and then he asked me if he thought — if I had any reaction to his iteration.
DAVIS: Do you think, Ms. Goodling, the attorney general was trying to shape your recollection?
GOODLING: No, I think we was just asking if I . . .
DAVIS: But it made you uncomfortable?
GOODLING: [Long pause] I just did not know if it was a conversation we should be having, and so I just just didn’t say anything.
DAVIS: [Quoting AbuGonz’s prior congressional testimony that] “I [AbuGonz] have not gone back and spoken to others in the department in order to protect the integrity of this investigation.”
DAVIS: Is that testimony sworn under oath by [AG AbuGonz] fully accurate?
GOODLING: [Long pause] I don’t know what period he’s referencing.
DAVIS: Did you know you might be a fact witness at that point Ms. Goodling?
DAVIS: Had there been substantial news coverage, Ms. Goodling, about the eventuality of you being a fact witness?
DAVIS: Do you believe the AG knew you were going to to be a fact witness?
GOODLING: I think he knew it was likely at that point.
AbuGonz had testified before Congress that once the firings became an issue, he did not talk about them with other members of the office, so that, in his own words, he could “protect the integrity of this investigation.”
Keeping witnesses separated from each other is, of course, a major key to getting truthful testimony. It ensures that everyone speaks from their own recollection, rather than tailoring the statements so as to agree with each other. That’s why cops immediately separate thugs after they arrest them, and why the only witness allowed in a courtroom during a trial is the one who is testifying.
Davis was sceptical that AbuGonz had kept his mouth shut about the investigation, suspecting he had, in fact, discussed a story with other witnesses. When Goodling took the stand, a less adept interrogator would have immediately asserted his scepticism and started asking Goodling whether AbuGonz’s statement was true, giving her all kinds of room to hem and haw and duck and dodge. Davis, though, kept the statement in his pocket until he had absolutely committed Goodling to the fact of the conversation, even getting her to admit that she felt like the conversation was improper. Then, BAM, there it was: “Your boss is a liar and unless you want to recant everything you just said, you have to agree.”
The pause after that punch was Goodling trying to catch her breath as she realized she had just been forced to admit her ex-boss perjured himself. Sure, she tried to help him by saying he might have been talking about a different time period, but AbuGonz spoke in absolutes, he didn’t mention a time period. And then Davis put her down for the count with some quick jabs establishing that, yeah, when AbuGonz spoke to her, he knew she was going to testify.
If you’re not already impressed, imagine how Alabama’s representative on the Senate Judiciary Committee would have questioned Goodling and you’ll realize how truly stupendously Davis just cross examined her.
UPDATE: I’m not the only one impressed with Artur Davis. Orin Kerr writes on the Volokh Conspiracy:
Based on the parts I’ve seen, the best questioner in the Monica Goodling procedings so far has been Artur Davis, a former AUSA. He’s good. One other comitttee member gave up her time to Davis, which is a smart move.
Then there’s this play-by-play:
3:12: Rep. Artur Davis asks Goodling specific questions about whether she believes various statements by Attorney General Alberto Gonzales about the firings were incorrect. He gets her to admit, multiple times, that the Attorney General’s statements were inaccurate. Sometimes the simplest questions are best.
3:14: Oooh, Rep. Davis is definitely making inroads. John Dowd objects and asks to see the AG testimony being referenced. Rep. Davis slaps Dowd: “As I recall, you are not a participant in these proceedings.”
Rep. Lungren (R-CA), clearly disturbed by the points that Davis is scoring, protests through a point of order. The Chair — Sheila Jackson Lee, filling in for John Conyers — overrules the point of order.
3:15: Rep. Lungren appeals the ruling of the chair. He is smacked down. . . .
3:25: Goodling is testifying about the circumstances of her departure from the DOJ. This could get very interesting…
3:28: Goodling testifies about a conversation she had with Attorney General Gonzales, concerning their recollections about U.S. Attorneygate, that may have been “inappropriate.” She wasn’t sure that “this was a conversation we should be having.”
3:29: She has been poised and calm throughout the day. But is Monica Goodling, worn down by hours of testifying, starting to crack? Is her voice trembling? Is she about to sell the AG down the river?
3:32: All the Dems keep yielding their time to Davis. ‘Cause they know this guy is GOOD — professional, precise, prepared. And he’s scoring some serious points in his questioning of La Goodling.
3:38: Congressman Artur Davis will be played by Terrence Howard in the made-for-TV movie about the U.S. Attorney firings scandal.
And what about Monica Goodling? Mira Sorvino might be too old; but Kate Bosworth might be too young.
3:43: Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), a freshman legislator, should have ceded his time to Davis. But now he’s trying to act all tough and macho, getting snippy with the witness, so he can look as “cool” as Davis. Give it up, Keith; you are no Artur Davis.