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McNulty denies key role in US Attorney firings, disputes Goodling testimony

[JURIST] Outgoing US Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty [official profile] Thursday denied [transcript] playing a key role in the controversial firings of at least eight US Attorneys [JURIST news archive] in testimony before the House Judiciary Committee [official website]. McNulty disputed the testimony [JURIST report] of former US Department of Justice (DOJ) aide Monica Goodling [JURIST news archive] who said that McNulty was closely involved and frequently updated on the list of US Attorneys to be fired. McNulty testified that he "had no knowledge of any plan to remove US Attorneys prior to October of 2006," adding that he was consulted near the end of the process only after the list was compiled by former DOJ Chief of Staff Kyle Sampson [DOJ press release; JURIST news archive] sometime in October or November. McNulty indicated that he removed US Attorney for the Northern District of Florida Gregory R. Miller [official profile] from the firing list, and added Kevin V. Ryan [Wikipedia profile], one of nine US Attorneys fired, but the only one that received consistently negative performance evaluations.

In May, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales [official profile; JURIST news archive] told reporters that he relied upon McNulty's recommendations [JURIST report], saying that McNulty knew better than anyone else about the qualifications of the US Attorneys. Last Friday, Mike Elston, chief of staff to McNulty, announced his resignation [JURIST report] effective June 22. Elston is accused of making threatening phone calls to at least four of the dismissed US Attorneys, urging them to remain silent about the circumstances of their firings. McNulty announced his resignation [JURIST report] last month, effective as early as the end of the summer or when a successor receives Congressional approval. AP has more.

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