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May 14, 2007


Who do we contact about the questions that you posed at the beginning of you article? I have no problem writing them and bringing this to their attention.

"Perhaps he just gave up serving in a Department hopelessly compromised by Gonzales' presence."

Wow, emptywheel, are you fast, really appreciate the post. Per you, I wonder if the Shrub wanted it business as usual at politicizing the DOJ, and a lot of people, including McNnulty, started "pushing back," and saying, "no, the AG has to sign off." Then this escalated into what amounts to a termination.

Hope springs eternal.

It will be interesting to see who the White House chooses to replace McNulty. Only someone with a James Comey-like reputation will be confirmable (Ironically, but for the CIA leak investigation, the obvious choice would be Patrick Fitzgerald).

Whoever it is, the Senate will use that confirmation as an excuse to ask a whole lot of questions.

The White House will be awfully tempted to sit on this one and appoint someone during the next recess. But that might be one step too far. While I wouldn't put anything past this administration, that might be too provacative even for them.

Meant to say "too provocative"...

Busy day EW. You're prolific.

Did you catch this?
Representative Henry Waxman, the Democratic chairman of the House oversight committee, announced that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will not testify on the prewar Iraq WMD intelligence before his committee tomorrow, as previously scheduled. She is now scheduled to appear on June 19. Why the delay? His office says, "The hearing is being postponed to allow former CIA Director George Tenet to testify with Secretary Rice and to accommodate Secretary Rice's travel schedule." Rice and Tenet together--that should be an interesting double feature, especially since Tenet has some choice words for her in his book. He accused her of being remote, of failing to broker the policy differences that led to the disaster in Iraq, and of refusing to recognize the troubling realities of Iraq after the invasion. I'd like to see the two grill each other. link

Is it truly possible for congress to stay in session over the Memorial Day break? If so, it would be good to know just how many foxes slated for the henhouse types are awaiting a now doubtful confirmation. So that we can write, call, email and importune Harry Reid to do something


Someone at DKOs pointed out that Comey has said he'll stay until Fall or until Senate confirms. Doesn't that rule out a recess before teh Fall?

EW, you mean McNutty, right?

I briefly read this post before having to go into a client meeting. I came back to post the exact thought you related in update 1 above. What, and how much, does McNulty have, or do they think McNulty has, on their almost seven year run of nonsense? Must be a lot for Gonzales to issue that little love letter so incredibly fast. And how tall of a "Chinese wall" will they build around him during his last weeks there? My first thought above was that Schumer should give him a call. Now I wonder if, after the little rage outburst from Gonzo after McNulty's committee testimony, McNulty might well have been covertly talking to Schumer for much of the time since. It is my inclination that McNulty is a loyal Gooper, but has a core belief in the integrity of the justice system. Now I don't know about McNulty, but most lawyers that I know who have a deep love of the law, that transcends party concerns completely. I think we are going to get a chance to grade exactly what love for the law Paul McNulty really has.

It is my inclination that McNulty is a loyal Gooper, but has a core belief in the integrity of the justice system.

I mostly agree with you on this, bmaz. But remember, they've had a pretty big wall preventing McNulty from learning anything already constructed--it's not clear how much he really knows. Though I have a bit of a fantasy that whatever he said to Comey in the Fall was damning--and that he knows Comey's going to share it tomorrow. And I'm most fascinated by the venue. WAS McNulty at a meeting with the USAs without AGAG?

Aye, that is a fascinating question. I am also curious about this SJC hearing with Comey tomorrow. It sure looked like it took you by surprise when it was announced on the FDL thread. Clearly whoever it was that so posted it was taken aback as well, because they set the info out in a question as to whether it could be true. I certainly had no idea. How long has this been planned? Was Leahy keeping it under wraps intentionally? If so, then I think something big is coming; because there is no reason to be cute unless you are protecting your play.

I think you're right, EW. McNulty said he's staying on until Fall. But still eventually they'll have to replace him. The question will be whether the Bush administration bothers to nominate someone or just appoints a recess guy.

No one who has any partisan background or reputation has even a chance of being confirmed.

Nice surprise to see that Comey is going before the Senate. Is it me or does the HJC seem significantly less incisive?

Bmaz, I think you are right that Shrub will try appoint someone during recess. Does Congress really have any power to do anything to end this. It seems to me the Admin. ignores them and Lord knows I support congress, but as EW said why are they not asking the right questions?

The interesting thing to me, something we see with Bush/Gonzo is that you know how high the corruption goes by who gets fired. Even someone being _allowed to resign_ is a stain on higher ups. If someone did a bad job, you don't let them resign, you fire their ass with indignation. Otherwise their actions were perfectly okay with you as the underling has more of a sense of what is acceptable than the boss.

What we have seen as a defining characteristic is that BushCo never fires anyone, thus validating their behavior. The message is never sent that anyone really cares what you do. If you want to quit, go ahead. This feature is probably what will define BushCo, and it points to the key flaw in Bush's leadership psychology: he either doesn't care, or doesn't want anyone to think he cares. I don't know which is worse.

It is my inclination that McNulty is a loyal Gooper, but has a core belief in the integrity of the justice system.

I mostly agree with you on this, bmaz.

Is there any evidence of this? Any at all? The fact that his role was quite diminished is not evidence; I think what the White House and DoJ did in that regard is a reflection on Comey, not on McNulty, and they would have done so regardless of who the new DAG was.

And do the high-profile prosecutions he undertook as USA in VA demonstrate that core belief, or betray any such thing? What about the contractor abuse cases referred to him, how'd he do with those?

He seems to have been protected by Schumer, that's about it.

I never had any reason to believe McNutty was less crooked than Rove, Gonzo and the rest ... except that Schumer seems to like him ... but Schumer himself has only recently show any signs of having the potential to be anything other than a spineless hack. My jury's still out on Schumer but it convicted McNulty a long time ago in connection with AIPAC, Plame and a number of other things I can't recall.

Great point about the recess over Memorial Day -- I hope Harry gives that one a thought.

I was excited to hear about McNulty resigning tonight, and I am interested to see if he might have something new to say about the firings.

I've been very disappointed by much of the tesimony so far in the HJC hearings. And I do not hold much hope that Goodling's testimony will expose any new facts or tidbits in this case. But I'm not giving up on something unexpected revealing itself either!

If I were a Senator, freshman or otherwise, I'd volunteer to stay in Washington to keep the lights on and the session open. It would be a great time to clean out the desk, really read the upcoming bills before voting on them, and actually get some work done without interruption and meetings. Maybe Reid would let me borrow his gavel so I could officially tap it each morning before settling down with a cup of coffee and a marking pen. ;)

Joking aside, I'm really worried that Bush will use any proposed recess to replace Gonzales.

There are plenty of other openings in various departments, too. My suggestions so far have been for the House and Senate to alternate weeks off or for them to overlap on the weekend, but if all confirmations are done by the Senate, having a couple of Senators (not including Lieberman) continuously on hand may be the only way to preclude more skullduggery.

I don't trust Bush.

The people who've had to endure his failed promises should surely not trust him. And given his Easter appointments as well as the sneaking around with Bolton, there is enough evidence that bully-boy Bush will use any opportunity to get his own way.

McNulty resigning does open yet more cracks in the Justice Department. A new President might have to sit down with Congress and remake the entire organization from scratch. That will be the only way to restore some integrity to the system.

mcnulty resigned but he did not leave, i.e., did not set a date certain to leave the department.


the whole thing smells fishy to me.

i suspect there is a bit of puppeteering going on here. i just don't know enough to guess who and why.

certainly, imo, no tears should be shed for paul mcn; he was a loyal soldier.

i'd love to see an analysis of his social network at doj.

was he buds with sampson or delilah?

did he know comey well?

if physiognomy means anything, this guy is not impressive.

looks like a repub buddy holly.

As to whether the meeting with the US attorneys had anything to do with McNulty's resignation, it has been rumored for a while. Here is a link to a TPM article dated April 16.


So apparently he's been job hunting for awhile. I wonder if that date, middle of April, had any significance in the timeline?

McNulty got end-arounded on the Kyle/Monica empowerment memo ('this package to bypass the DAG') - he may be a loyal Gooper, but he wasn't considered a loyal Bushie.

My guess is that Rove was scared of Comey, but pretty sure he could scam McNulty in the January testimony with Goodling's 'coaching.'

McNulty was a never more than a harpoon-catcher to Rove/Miers/Gonzo/Goodling - he wasn't on the 'inside' of the Kingdom.

Anybody care to offer any evidence that McNulty has a core belief in the integrity of the justice system?

Jeff - When I made the statement above, I indicated that it was just my gut feeling. The things I would point to are his congressional testimony for one. For the most part, he was responsive to questions. Now I probably view it through somewhat of a different lens than most because I have been around a fair amount of federal and state prosecutors and have an idea how they generally will respond to questioning. Comey is a good example; he was forthcoming, but only to adroit questioning and sadly there was very little of this in the HJC. McNulty was not as forthcoming as Comey, but he was not a dead stick in the mud like Gonzales and Sampson. McNulty also gave fairly damning testimony on Griffin/Cummins and I think he knew exactly what he was doing and knew it was not what Gonzales and the WH wanted. Far as I can tell, he could have easily said he didn't know or otherwise avoided saying what he did. Secondly, Comey and/or Fitzgerald have said that he is a man of principle at heart and are friends with him. At this point, I am not sure they would go that far if they did not believe it; again, they could say nothing and have about others. Lastly, there is a reason all the theocrat nasties consistently worked around him, even before his testimony; they thought he had an honest streak somewhere. Do not get me wrong, I don't find any of this to be substantive or definitive evidence, nor am I saying that even if true he is overly admirable. He is not; to much has gone on without him taking action previously. But, I am hoping there is an internal line of ethics in him and that it has been crossed sufficiently that, if approached and questioned properly, he will give up the ghost. Not taking any bets on the proposition; we'll see.

I was doing a post hoc ergo prompter hoc connection between Monica getting immunity Friday and McNulty resigning Monday.

But the McNulty Monday resignation on the announcement of surprise Comey testimony Tuesday sounds more like cause and effect.

I find this insanely funny. Was not McNulty the pulled in to short circuit the AIPAC trial?

Odd that he moved from that short term assignment to Comey's slot isn't it?


It's Conyers and the House Judiciary Committee who are giving Monica immunity. What about the Senate Judiciary Committee and its investigation? Can they now interview Monica? Do they have to vote on and issue and have accepted their own immunity grant?

And are these two committees redundant? If not, what are the differences between the stated auspices of their respective DOJ investigations?

Finally, aside from the questioners being a bit more on the ball, what differences are we to expect between Comey's House appearance and his scheduled Senate appearance?

Very off topic, but did anyone else pick up on the story of Bush bringing around 12 of the Pat Robertson crowd to Washington for a private 90 minute session? It's clear that he's using them as point men for war with Iran. Clearly gave them talking points to distribute through the sheep. There's a link over a Raw Story for those of you interested. Doesn't bode well too me.

"Do not get me wrong, I don't find any of this to be substantive or definitive evidence, nor am I saying that even if true he is overly admirable. He is not; too much has gone on without him taking action previously. But, I am hoping there is an internal line of ethics in him and that it has been crossed sufficiently that, if approached and questioned properly, he will give up the ghost. Not taking any bets on the proposition; we'll see."

Beautifully stated, thanks.

obsessed -- the Senate and House Judiciary Committees have slightly different functions, though they overlap. Because appropriations bills must begin in the house, they usually take more interest in line items in the budget, evaluation of programs and costs, and certainly any request for budget increases. The Senate has the confirming responsibility -- high level DOJ officers plus Judges and USA's. Generally changes in statutes rise in the Senate.

Does anyone remember that McNulty was not the first choice for DAG -- Bush's first choice was a buddy from Skull and Bones at Yale, but his nomination got withdrawn for some sort of conflict of interest matter -- the details slip my mind.


Fair enough. I just don't think there's evidence that McNulty is doing anything other than pursuing his own interests, and the fact that those are now at odds with the interests of the White House and Gonzales is what will make him something of a truth-teller, if anything does. As for what he's said already, if you think he knows what he's doing, then that has to apply to all the falsehoods he propagated too, no? (I'm inclined to think so, in fact.) I think he very well may prove to be a key witness; I just don't think it will be because of an intrinsic honesty or integrity. He'll just be protecting himself and exposing others.

As for the AIPAC trial, my sense is that the organization got off, the individuals did not, and their case is being used to gut freedom of the press, which is awful.

I'm trying to remember....Wasn't McNulty handling the Niger forgery investigation? I think I remember reading that Fitzgerald consulted with him on the portfolio early in his investigation. This was just before the Franklin indictment for spying. Since the Niger investigation went dark, I assumed that maybe McNulty was promoted to stop the investigation.

10 a.m. Judiciary To hold hearings to examine the Department of Justice politicizing the hiring and firing of United States Attorneys, focusing on preserving prosecutorial independence. SD-226 (See CapitolHearings.org for audio)

Does the SJC offer video feeds of their hearings like the HJC does? I hope so because C-Span doesn't have it listed for tomorrow.

Holy crap folks!! Lil Al Gonzales' Harvard Law classmates have issued a letter and are taking out a WaPo ad saying he is a schmuck ruining the country's justice system! http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2007/05/14/law-school-classmates-criticize-gonzales/

bmaz's link from the New York Times Law School Classmates Criticize Gonzales

"Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, who has been under fire from politicians in both parties, was assailed today by several dozen of his classmates at Harvard Law School, Class of 1982.

“As lawyers, and as a matter of principle, we can no longer be silent about this administration’s consistent disdain for the liberties we hold dear,” those classmates said in a letter to Mr. Gonzales today. “Your failure to stand for the rule of law, particularly when faced with a president who makes the aggrandized claim of being a unitary executive, takes this country down a dangerous path.[...]"

I know nothing, but my guess is that the McNulty "announcement" is an effort by Rove to starve the forest fire by downing the next line of trees.

Maybe McNulty will take the Fifth after Goodling testifies.

That would ruin Rove's whole day.

McNulty replaced Timothy Flanigan as the DAG nominee. Flanigan's nomination was withdrawn in October 2005 because he had a torture problem and an Abramoff problem.

Albert Fall

Though note dotsright's reference--McNulty was first publicly talking about quitting in mid-April--just days after Monica finally quit. So you may well be right that this correlates more closely to Monica's testimony than anything else.


I think I'd largely say the things that bmaz said, though I'd add two, which I think are pieces of evidence that McNulty is a weak person whose conscience rarely overcomes the political surroundings he's in, but who at least has one. With both Bogden and Lam, he had twinges of conscience. They weren't large enough to save their jobs, but they were there. So added to your point about self-preservation (which I believe is ALSO operating), I think McNulty is certainly not operating out of the same hyper-partisan disresepect for the law that the clique is.

and, good mornin' all --

here is a link to the
live video feed this
morning, may 15, 2007, at
10:00 a.m. e.d.t. -- of james
comey's testimony before the
senate judiciary committee

also, here is a clickable-image of
mr. mcnulty's actual resignation
letter, with commentary
on it. . .

should be a busy news day, as
sen. chuck schumer delves into pre-
serving prosecutorial independence. . .

i expect mcnulty's failings, as well
of course, as those of alberto gonzales,
to be highlighted by comparison to the
solid, independent style of mr. comey.

great granular detail, here, emptywheel!

http://judiciary.senate.gov/hearing.cfm?id=2774 for SJC broadcast of the Comey hearings.

Will there be live blogging on any blog?


I sent your questions to Ben Cardin this morning. Let's hope he reads his email before heading over to the hearing.

btw, I put up some preliminary qs for Monica on a Windows LiveSpace under TiredFed. Will keep aggregatin' until a few days before she is scheduled to testify (havent seen a date yet).



Yes, I'll be liveblogging at FDL.

emptywheel, that's great. I'll be there "with bells on."


Pretty thin gruel, if you ask me. And I'm not sure it shows much twinge of conscience to direct your deputy to, in effect, threaten and quid-pro-quo USAs not to talk publicly, as McNulty almost certainly did. Among many other things.

Marcy, thanks for the live blog of Comey. I had chills running up my spine reading his testimony.

good article on McNulty: "The Anti-Comey Leaves Justice"


Schumer did a pretty good job. Sounds like they had a private session ahead of time. Comey makes a good witness but he is very careful about what he says and will only say so much unless drawn out or required to clarify a statement. a Joe Friday sorta guy.

love the way Schumer blew away the 5-minute rule!

gosh Specter is such a maroon!

funny how the Dems act like Comey is one of them and Specter tries to find ways to catch him in a lie or make him say it was all legal anyway.

sounds like there was a closed hearing. any word on that?

silly me - I'm listening the the mp3 now. thank goodness selise posted it.

man, I can't believe that wasnt televised! I would want to save that for my grandchildren.

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