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‘He Should Have Been More Combative’

Following up on Nicole's post from yesterday, Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty has stepped down, citing the financial burden of having two chi

Following up on Nicole's post from yesterday, Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty has stepped down, citing the financial burden of having two children in college.

Of course, given the circumstances, we know there’s a lot more to it than that. The NYT reports that McNulty, who’d been rumored to have one foot out the door for several weeks now, “had been shaken by the intensity of the storm over the removals and the sometimes sharp personal criticism directed at him from the White House and former Republican allies.”

Friends of Mr. McNulty said he had tried to be candid about what he knew of the removals. In his private Congressional testimony, Mr. McNulty said he did not realize until later the extensive White House involvement in Mr. Griffin’s appointment or Mr. Sampson’s nearly year-long effort to compile a list.

White House aides complained privately that Mr. McNulty’s testimony gave Democrats a significant opening to demand more testimony from the Justice Department and presidential aides. Several aides said he should have been combative in defending the dismissals.

For me, that’s the key here. The White House thinks McNulty "should have been combative," which is to say, he shouldn't have been willing to tell the truth.

The White House (and to a limited extent, Alberto Gonzales) held McNulty responsible for this scandal, almost from the outset. Because he politicized the process? Because he misled lawmakers? No, because he inadvertently told the Senate Judiciary Committee about actual motivations and decisions, which was the opposite of what the Bush gang wanted lawmakers to hear.

When it came to the firing of Bud Cummins in Arkansas, for example, McNulty told senators it was done to make room for a Karl Rove protege, which highlighted a process the Bush gang wanted to keep secret. In turn, by acknowledging reality, McNulty had made a mistake, as far as the White House was concerned.

McNulty is the fourth Justice Department official to resign as a result of the prosecutor purge scandal. Who's next?

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