Monica Goodling, a top adviser to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and a key player in developing a plan to fire eight fired U.S. attorneys, has resigned.
Goodling found herself at the center of a battle with Congress over her refusal to testify about the firings. Since the scandal broke, she has been on a leave of absence from the Justice Department. The resignation simply formalizes what many people had assumed — that Goodling will not return to her job as liaison to the White House.
Congress has pushed hard for her to testify about the firings. Democrats had pointedly asked Gonzales how a Justice Department staffer could refuse to testify as part of an investigation in which the Justice Department has pledged to cooperate.
Goodling has said through her lawyers that she will invoke her 5th Amendment right not to answer questions about the dismissal. Her lawyers would not comment on the reasons for her resignation.
Goodling is the second senior Gonzales aide to resign in the wake of the furor over the attorney firings. The first was Kyle Sampson, who was Gonzales' former chief of staff. Sampson testified before Congress last week, contradicting some of his former boss's statements on the firings.
Goodling's testimony was sought because she was in a unique position to know how significant a role the White House played in orchestrating the firings and what the attorney general knew about the White House's role. She began her leave of absence when the scandal broke.
In her resignation letter, Goodling called her time at the Justice Department an honor. "May God bless you richly as you continue your service to America," she told the attorney general.