Thursday, May 24, 2007

McNulty Rebuts Testimony That He Lied To Senate Panel

Former Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty, countering the testimony of another senior Justice Department official, said yesterday he told the truth when he testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee about the firing of U.S. attorneys.

"I testified truthfully at the Feb. 6, 2007, hearing based on what I knew at that time," McNulty said in a statement hours after former DOJ White House liaison Monica Goodling told the House Judiciary Committee that McNulty had not been "fully candid" in telling the Senate panel what he knew about the firings.

"Ms. Goodling's characterization of my testimony is wrong and not supported by the extensive record of documents and testimony already provided to Congress," McNulty said.

The statement was part of an aggressive DOJ assault on Goodling's testimony. She testified under immunity from prosecution, which was granted after she initially balked at testifying to avoid incriminating herself.

A Justice official denied Goodling's suggestion that McNulty was less than truthful about his knowledge of White House involvement. McNulty said during his February appearance that the White House had minimal involvement. Evidence that emerged subsequently showed greater involvement than McNulty appeared to suggest.

The Justice source said Goodling's testimony was based on an assumption that another Justice official provided McNulty with information about White House involvement. This, he indicated, was not the case.

Goodling also testified she believed McNulty had more information than he shared with the Senate about White House involvement in appointing Tim Griffin, an aide to White House political adviser Karl Rove, to be a U.S. attorney in Arkansas. The Justice official said that while McNulty was "kept informed" about Griffin, he was not told "exactly how he came to be nominated."

Meanwhile, Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., vowed to move aggressively in his probe of the firings.

Leahy released a statement saying Goodling's claim that she had limited involvement in the firings -- and similar assertions by others in the agency -- reinforced suspicions that the White House was behind the process.

"It is deeply troubling that the crisis of leadership at the department allowed the White House to wield undue political influence over key law enforcement decisions and policies," Leahy said.

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