Breaking: Fifth Top Justice Official Linked To Attorney Scandal Resigns

Mike Elston, chief of staff to Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty, has become the fifth Justice Department official to resign after being linked to the firings of several U.S. attorneys:

Elston’s resignation is effective at the end of next week. Reached Friday afternoon, he confirmed his plans to leave but would not say why.

Elston is a key figure in several recent Justice Department scandals:

— Last month, Elston admitted that at the direction of McNulty, he placed calls to four fired U.S. attorneys calls that three of the prosecutors say involved threats not to testify before Congress about their dismissals. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) said that Elston’s calls were one of many examples in this scandal that have the “whiff of obstruction of justice.”

— Former Missouri U.S. Attorney Bradley Schlozman recently testified that he had consulted with Elson about filing controversial voter fraud indictments a week before the 2006 election. Former Justice Department officials have said that Schlozman’s call to Elston was “inappropriate” and may have been part of an effort to “pressure” Election Crimes chief Craig Donsanto into approving the indictments. [Link]

— Elston came under fire for allegedly politicizing the DoJ Honors Program, a highly selective program for entry-level DOJ lawyers. A group of anonymous Justice Department employees complained that “Elston rejected hundreds of potential applicants to the program last year seemingly based on their political backgrounds.” [Link]