The Department of Justice is made up of high-level political appointees such as the U.S. attorneys as well as career lawyers and staffers who serve regardless of the administration.
Goodling has been under investigation by the department for grilling potential career employees for their political affiliations, which is a potential violation of federal law. She sought and was granted immunity from a federal court for Wednesday's testimony.
Asked by Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va., if she violated civil service laws Goodling said, "I don't believe I intended to commit a crime."
She said, "In every case I tried to act in good faith and for the purpose of ensuring that the department was staffed by well-qualified individuals who were supportive of the attorney general's views, priorities and goals."
"Nevertheless, I do acknowledge that I may have gone too far in asking political questions of applicants for career positions, and I may have taken inappropriate political considerations into account on some occasions. And I regret those mistakes."
During the afternoon session she also provided more testimony that she used political criteria to hire some immigration judges and line attorneys at the department.
Goodling said that she even looked at the political donations of some potential hires.
Asked who gave her the authority to look at this, Goodling said, "Kyle Sampson," Gonzales' former chief of staff.
In her soft-spoken testimony, Goodling also pushed back at allegations by Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty that she failed to properly brief him and caused him to mislead Congress in his own testimony about the limited role of the White House in the firing of the U.S. attorneys.
After McNulty's testimony, several e-mails were released documenting that the White House had participated in an analysis of which U.S. attorneys should be fired.
McNulty has since announced his own resignation from the department, effective at the end of summer.
Goodling said that while McNulty has blamed her for failing to accurately brief him on the role of the White House, he in fact "was not fully candid about his knowledge" of the White House's involvement in the replacement decision.
The former White House liaison for the Justice Department said she was "surprised to learn that the deputy had blamed me for the incomplete or inaccurate information he provided to the Senate."
She also accused McNulty of having "some knowledge" of the White House's interest in selecting Tim Griffin as the interim U.S. attorney in the eastern district of Arkansas.
Griffin, a former aide to top White House political adviser Karl Rove replaced Bud Cummins of Arkansas, the first of the eight U.S. attorneys to be fired last year.
McNulty told the Senate Judiciary Committee in February he did not have knowledge of how Griffin came to be recommended for the U.S. attorney post.
During a break in the hearing McNulty released his own statement, saying that he testified truthfully at his Feb. 6 hearing and that "Ms. Goodling's characterization of my testimony is wrong and not supported by the extensive record of documents and testimony already provided to Congress."
Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, called Goodling's testimony an "important and necessary step" to "help us get to the bottom" of the controversy.