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No. 2 at Justice will step down

He's the highest-ranking official to resign in the midst of a controversy involving U.S. attorneys.

Published May 15, 2007


WASHINGTON - Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty announced his resignation Monday after 18 months on the job, becoming the fourth senior Justice Department official to quit amid the controversy surrounding the dismissal of U.S. attorneys last year.

In a one-page letter to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, McNulty said he will leave his post in late summer because of the "financial realities" brought on by "college-age children and two decades of public service."

McNulty, 49, said in an interview that the political tumult over the dismissals - including his role in providing inaccurate information to Congress - did not play a part in his decision. He said he has not lined up a job.

"It's been a big issue for the past few months, but the timing of this is really about other things, " McNulty said.

The prosecutors' dismissals have caused an uproar among Democrats and some Republicans in Congress, and have led to a Justice Department inquiry into possible criminal wrongdoing by a former aide to Gonzales.

McNulty began work as Gonzales' deputy in November 2005. McNulty became a central figure in the furor after he told the Senate Judiciary Committee in February that the White House played only a marginal role in the dismissals - a characterization that conflicted with documents later released by Justice and with subsequent testimony.

He also said most of the prosecutors were fired for "performance-related" reasons. That statement angered many of the former U.S. attorneys, most of whom had sterling evaluations.

In testimony that even angered Gonzales, according to a Justice Department e-mail, McNulty said that one prosecutor, H.E. Cummins III of Arkansas, was dismissed solely to make room for J. Timothy Griffin, who had been named as the temporary replacement with the backing of Karl Rove, the senior White House political adviser.

The fallout has led to a deepening rift between Gonzales and McNulty, whose supporters believe he has been tarred by missteps and possible wrongdoing by former Gonzales aides, according to numerous Justice officials. McNulty has told congressional investigators that Kyle Sampson, Gonzales' then-chief of staff, and Monica Goodling, then the department's White House liaison, did not brief him fully before his testimony. Sampson and Goodling have resigned, as has Michael A. Battle, the senior Justice official who carried out the firings.

Information from the New York Times was used in this report.

[Last modified May 15, 2007, 03:55:41]

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