Gonzales: Departing aide played lead role in firings

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said Tuesday that departing Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty was primarily responsible for recommending the firing of eight U.S. attorneys last year, saying that McNulty's personal knowledge of the prosecutors and his role as manager of the department set his advice apart from other senior officials who participated in the process.

"At the end of the day, the recommendation reflected the views of the deputy attorney general," Gonzales said during an appearance at the National Press Club. "He signed off on the names, and he would know better than anyone else ... about the qualifications and experiences of the United States attorney community."

While offering warm words of praise as McNulty prepares to leave his position -- he announced his resignation Monday, citing personal reasons -- Gonzales said he had structured the department so that McNulty acted as the chief operating officer. He added that McNulty was "a former colleague of all of these United States attorneys" who knew them well.

"The one person that I would care about would be the views of the deputy attorney general, because the deputy attorney general is the direct supervisor of the United States attorneys," Gonzales said.

As he has previously, Gonzales acknowledged that he should have been more involved. Pressed repeatedly on why he was not, Gonzales spoke of the busy nature of his job. But he said that if he had to do it again, he might have put McNulty in charge of the process instead of his former chief of staff, Kyle Sampson.

He said he also would have truncated the process, specified with whom Sampson should consult, issued clear guidelines about factors that should be considered, and directed Sampson to meet face-to-face with the attorneys and get their reactions to criticisms.

Gonzales also indicated that while Sampson and former White House liaison Monica Goodling played key roles in the process of determining who would be fired, he did not consider them "top aides."

Even as officials leave the department in the wake of the scandal, Gonzales brushed aside a question about whether he should resign, saying this was a decision for the president to make. Though several of the fired U.S. attorneys were targets of complaints that they were not pursuing voter fraud cases aggressively enough, Gonzales said he was aware of no "concentrated effort" by the White House to promote voter fraud prosecutions.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

    Download
  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

    Download
  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

    Download
  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

    Download
  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.