So far, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has survived the firestorm that has surrounded him for the past couple of months regarding the potentially politically motivated terminations of several U.S. attorneys. However, the scandal continues to claim the jobs of several of his closest aides and advisors.
The latest to jump ship is Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty, who announced his forthcoming resignation earlier today. It was McNulty who testified to Congress in February that the firings of eight U.S. attorneys were carried out due to performance-related issues, a fact that has been thoroughly disputed and disproved by later revelations. He also angered Gonzales by admitting during the same testimony that one of the attorneys was sacked in order to make room for a Karl Rove loyalist.
McNulty has been second in command at the Department of Justice for the past year and a half. He has claimed in the past that he was unaware of any real White House involvement in the firing process, and while he may not have been personally aware of any involvement, documents released after the fact show that the Bush team was indeed involved in the decisions at some substantial level.
McNulty joins Monica Goodling and Kyle Sampson on the scandalÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s casualty list; all three had prominent positions at the DOJ until the attorney-firing scandal began to catch fire. Meanwhile, Gonzales continues to blithely go about his job, seemingly unaware that his entire department–with morale sinking and its integrity challenged is slowly crumbling around him.
Goodling, meanwhile, was granted immunity last week that has cleared the way for her own Congressional testimony. Goodling was the DOJÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s chief liaison to the White House, and her testimony is expected to shed some light on just how involved the presidentÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s own advisors were in the decision-making process.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“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,Ã¢â‚¬Â Sen. Charles E. Schumer said in the Washington Post. Schumer is among the growing numbers of lawmakers calling for GonzalesÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ resignation. Ã¢â‚¬Å“This administration owes us a lot better.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Ã¢â‚¬Å“The Department of Justice will be losing a dynamic and thoughtful leader with the departure of Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty,Ã¢â‚¬Â said Gonzales in a prepared statement. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Paul announced today that he would leave the Department later this summer after more than eight years of service.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“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. He will be missed.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Not surprisingly, neither McNulty nor Gonzales alluded to the scandal that has devastated the nationsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ leading law-enforcement body.