Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty will leave the Justice Department after fewer than two years on the job. The Washington Post says he is the fourth senior Justice Department official to quit amid the controversy surrounding the dismissal of nine U.S. attorneys last year. McNulty attributed his departure this summer to “financial realities” brought on by “college-age children and two decades of public service.” McNulty, 49, told the Post that the political tumult over the prosecutor dismissals — including his role in providing inaccurate information to Congress — did not play a part in his decision. The Associated Press reported that McNulty aides the news service did not identify said McNulty would have left this year anyway, but his timing “was hastened by anger” about the way the Bush administration has handled the U.S. Attorney mess. He has not lined up a job. McNulty timed the announcement to coincide with a prosecutor conference in San Antonio.
McNulty became a central figure in the U.S. Attorney furor after he told the Senate Judiciary Committee in February that the White House played only a marginal role in the dismissals — a characterization that conflicted with documents later released by Justice and with subsequent testimony. He also said most of the prosecutors were fired for “performance-related” reasons. That statement angered many of the former U.S. attorneys, most of whom had sterling evaluations and had remained largely silent about their departures. The fallout has led to a deepening rift between McNulty and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.