McNulty, Justice Dept. No. 2, resigning
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
"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
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'
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
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
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
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
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
A native of Pittsburgh, McNulty is married and has
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