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.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

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

  • Sponsored by Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.


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