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McNulty, Justice Dept. No. 2, resigning

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070514/ap_on_go_ca_st_pe/fired_prosecutors_resignation;_ylt=ApESE6TSHIO5.rl4ro6L77Os0NUE McNulty, Justice Dept. No. 2, resigning
    Message 1 of 1 , May 14, 2007
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      http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070514/ap_on_go_ca_st_pe/fired_prosecutors_resignation;_ylt=ApESE6TSHIO5.rl4ro6L77Os0NUE

      McNulty, Justice Dept. No. 2, resigning

      By LARA JAKES JORDAN, Associated Press Writer 1 hour,
      18 minutes ago

      WASHINGTON - Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty said
      Monday he will resign, becoming the highest-ranking
      Bush administration casualty in the furor over the
      firing of U.S. attorneys.

      McNulty, who has served 18 months as the Justice
      Department's second-in-command, announced his plans at
      a closed-door meeting of U.S. attorneys in San
      Antonio. He told them he would remain at the
      department until late summer or until the Senate
      approves a successor, aides said.

      He also sent a one-page letter of resignation to
      Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, whose own job has
      been put in jeopardy by the firings and their
      aftermath.

      "The financial realities of college-age children and
      two decades of public service lead me to a long
      overdue transition in my career," McNulty said in the
      letter, which did not mention the firings controversy.

      Neither did Gonzales, in a responding statement that
      praised McNulty as "a dynamic and thoughtful leader."

      "Paul is an outstanding public servant and a fine
      attorney who has been valued here at the department,
      by me and so many others, as both a colleague and a
      friend," Gonzales said.

      McNulty has been considering leaving for months, and
      aides said he never intended to serve more than two
      years as deputy attorney general. But his ultimate
      decision to step down, the aides said, was hastened by
      anger at being linked to the prosecutors' purge that
      Congress is investigating to determine if eight U.S.
      attorneys were fired for political reasons.

      The aides spoke on condition of anonymity because they
      were not authorized to talk publicly about McNulty's
      decision.

      McNulty also irked Gonzales by testifying in February
      that at least one of the fired prosecutors was ordered
      to make way for a protege of Karl Rove, President
      Bush's chief political adviser. Gonzales, who has
      resisted lawmakers' calls to resign, maintains the
      firings were proper, and rooted in the prosecutors'
      lackluster performances.

      Two other former Justice Department officials —
      Gonzales chief of staff Kyle Sampson and White House
      liaison Monica Goodling — have resigned in the past
      two months over the U.S. attorney firings.

      "It seems ironic that Paul McNulty, who at least tried
      to level with the committee, goes while Gonzales, who
      stonewalled the committee, is still in charge," said
      Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., a member of the
      Senate Judiciary Committee.

      McNulty's resignation is expected to be the start of
      significant turnover at the department, particularly
      within the office he heads. Possible replacements for
      McNulty, according to several Justice officials,
      include Kevin O'Connor, the U.S. attorney in
      Connecticut, who also serves now as Gonzales' staff
      chief; Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Wainstein;
      and Susan Brooks, top prosecutor in Indiana, who is
      vice chair of the attorney general's advisory
      committee.

      It's unclear what McNulty will do after he leaves the
      Justice Department, where he has held several
      high-ranking posts in current Bush administration and
      that of former President George H.W. Bush.

      McNulty also served more than four years as the U.S.
      attorney in suburban Alexandria, Va., a position he
      took three days after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror
      attacks and one he frequently described as "one of the
      greatest jobs you can ever have."

      Much of McNulty's focus as U.S. attorney was on
      terrorism cases, including the conviction of Zacarias
      Moussaoui, who admitted to conspiring with the Sept.
      11 hijackers but was spared the death penalty.

      But it was his dealings with his former fellow U.S.
      attorneys that accelerated McNulty's resignation.

      McNulty was in charge of overseeing the nation's 93
      U.S. attorneys and attended numerous meetings about
      the firings — both at the Justice Department and the
      White House, including at least one that Rove
      attended.

      On Feb. 6, McNulty told a Senate panel that at least
      one of the ousted prosecutors was asked to leave
      without cause — Bud Cummins in Little Rock, Ark., who
      was told to resign so that Tim Griffin, a former aide
      to Rove and the Republican National Committee, could
      take his place.

      McNulty also told Congress that the decision to fire
      the eight U.S. attorneys in December was made solely
      by the Justice Department. He was furious, aides said,
      after learning later that Sampson had discussed the
      potential firings with the White House since at least
      January 2005.

      Gonzales maintains the firings were needed to replace
      underperforming U.S. attorneys, and has disagreed with
      McNulty's testimony that Cummins had been fired for
      any other reason.

      "The attorney general is extremely upset with the
      stories on the US Attys this morning," Justice
      spokesman Brian Roehrkasse wrote in a Feb. 7 e-mail
      after McNulty testified. "He also thought some of the
      DAG's statements were inaccurate."

      Gonzales and Sampson's lawyer have both said McNulty
      should have been well aware of the circumstances
      surrounding the firings. In his own Senate testimony
      last month, Gonzales indicated he trusted his most
      senior aides, including McNulty, to decide which
      prosecutors would be asked to resign.

      "It was to be a group of officials, including the
      deputy attorney general, who were much more
      knowledgeable than I about the performance of each
      U.S. attorney," Gonzales said.

      However, e-mails released by the department show
      McNulty was not intimately involved in all of the
      choices and at one point questioned the dismissal of
      U.S. Attorney Daniel Bogden in Nevada.

      "I'm a little skittish about Bogden," McNulty wrote in
      a Dec. 7 e-mail to Sampson. He concluded: "I'll admit
      have not looked at his district's performance. Sorry
      to be raising this again/now; it was just on my mind
      last night and this morning."

      McNulty is a longtime GOP loyalist who was spokesman
      for House Judiciary Committee Republicans during the
      impeachment of President Clinton and later directed
      the transition team for the new Bush administration's
      Justice Department.

      Earlier this year, he scaled back tough department
      tactics that aimed to curb corporate fraud after the
      Enron-era scandals. The so-called "McNulty Memo"
      limited prosecutors' ability to obtain confidential
      data from corporations without first receiving written
      approval from the department.

      McNulty also led Justice Department crackdowns on
      military contracts, most notably in Iraq, that were
      awarded or otherwise pushed by bribed officials. His
      interest in those cases largely stemmed from his
      tenure as U.S. attorney, where his office had criminal
      oversight of the
      Pentagon.

      A native of Pittsburgh, McNulty is married and has
      four children.

      ___

      On the Net:

      Justice Department: http://www.usdoj.gov/
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