Waiting for Monica.

Down and on the way out.
May 14 2007 4:12 PM

Gonzo-Meter

Waiting for Monica.

Today's chance of a Gonzales departure: 55 percent

(Previously:  77 percent)

The Gonzo-Meter

Gonzo-meters are only as good as the Gonzos they measure, and we confess that when we first launched this feature we underestimated the attorney general's taste for public humiliation. It's now amply clear that whatever contempt serious attorneys at the Justice Department, Republican stalwarts, and the national media feel for Alberto Gonzales is more than matched by the contempt he feels for all of them. And as the days go by and it becomes clear that the AG thinks he has won by losing, we fear we have to back down from our prediction that he will leave anytime soon.

But there's one small blond reason not to fold up the meter just yet: Monica Goodling. Goodling, who has now been granted partial immunity for her congressional testimony, holds the bit of string that will either unravel the whole sweater, or not. It all depends on what she chooses to say. Nameless administration officials are telling Legal Times that Gonzales' survival isn't a certainty until after Goodling testifies. And as it becomes clearer that her own misconduct crossed the line from bad judgment into possible illegalities, it becomes harder for her to testify, as did Kyle Sampson, that nothing really untoward happened at the Justice Department.

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Marty Lederman has a great blog post here outlining the real issues in the U.S. attorney scandal. It clarifies why the White House effort to cast Congress' investigation as a liberal-led fishing expedition is not quite right. But what or whom Congress catches is ultimately up to Goodling, or at least so it seems. We move the meter down to 55 percent because we're not sure that she can (or will) dish up anything good. But we are keeping the meter alive because, well, we don't plan to miss the show if she does.

Emily Bazelon is a staff writer at the New York Times Magazine and the author of Sticks and Stones

John Dickerson is Slate's chief political correspondent and author of On Her Trail. Read his series on the presidency and on risk.

Dahlia Lithwick writes about the courts and the law for Slate. Follow her on Twitter.

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