On March 1, 2006, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales signed “a highly confidential order” delegating extraordinary new powers to his then-chief of staff Kyle Sampson, and his then-White House liaison Monica Goodling. The memo, first revealed by Murray Waas in the National Journal, gave Sampson and Goodling power to hire and fire most non-civil-service employees at the Justice Department.
Asked about the order in his testimony before the House Judiciary Committee today, former Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty, who resigned in May, said that he only became aware of it after it was reported in the press.
“I became familiar when there was a story on the subject in the National Journal,” said McNulty. “In the past month or so.”
Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA) then asked if he was “surprised” when he “first learned” that his authority to hire and fire within his own office “had been taken away” from him “and given to a couple of inexperienced political appointees.” McNulty said he was “struck” by the move.
MCNULTY: What struck me was the guidance on the control sheet, if you will, that said ‘this is to not be circulated through the office of the Deputy Attorney General.’ And I still don’t know to this day why that was the case.
JOHNSON: Were you disturbed because you were cut out of the loop, as the chairman indicated?
MCNULTY: Well, that definitely was a concern to me when I saw that. And I’ve heard Ms. Goodling’s explanation of it, I didn’t quite understand it. And I’m still not clear as to her position on that subject. What I understood it to be, it looked like it was something that wasn’t going through the Deputy’s office for recommendation to the Attorney General, as most of our documents do. I can’t say much more about it than that.
Despite the evidence that McNulty was purposefully “cut out of the loop,” Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has tried to throw him under the bus, claiming that McNulty had “most of the operational authority and decisions” at the Department of Justice.
Transcript: Read more