McNulty to Resign, Over U.S. Attorney Firings?

Despite bipartisan calls for his resignation in recent weeks, U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales seems to be standing firm. But his number-one aide has announced plans to resign.

In a private meeting today with U.S. attorneys in San Antonio, Paul J. McNulty, the second-in-command at the Justice Department, said he would be leaving by this fall, or as soon as the Senate confirms his successor, AP reports. The news agency termed McNulty’s departure a “casualty” of the controversy over the dismissals of U.S. attorneys last year, allegedly as part of a political purge. (Although a total of eight dismissals earlier were at issue, it now appears that at least 11 prosecutors may have been sent packing to promote Republican party goals.)

A Bloomberg news report, however, did not go that far, and McNulty himself gave as his reason for resigning “financial realities of college-age children.”

In recent testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, McNulty’s account of the U.S. attorney firings differed from the AG’s, and Gonzales is said to have been annoyed by that. In a statement today, however, he said: “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. On behalf of the Department, I wish him well in his future endeavors.”

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