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No. 2 official at Justice Department resigns

Story Highlights

• Paul McNulty resigns, citing 'personal reasons,' including college finances for kids
• McNulty took office in November 2005
• Resignation comes amid controversy over firing of eight U.S. attorneys
• Sen. Chuck Schumer calls resignation 'ironic'
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The No. 2 official at the Justice Department, Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty, submitted his resignation to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, the Justice Department announced Monday.

McNulty cited personal reasons for his resignation.

"The financial realities of college-age children and two decades of public service lead me to a long overdue transition in my career," he wrote in his resignation letter. (McNulty's resignation letterexternal link)

A source close to McNulty told CNN that the deputy attorney general had planned to resign from the $165,000-a-year job about a month ago, but decided to announce the move at a conference of U.S. attorneys in Texas.

McNulty's resignation comes amid the controversy over the department's firing of eight U.S. attorneys last year.

He was one of the key figures in meetings and discussions about the shakeup, and investigators from the House and Senate Judiciary committees grilled him for more than eight hours in April.

McNulty, a former U.S. attorney himself, told the Senate Judiciary Committee in February that the firings were performance-related. That provoked an outcry from the ex-officials, some of whom raised allegations that some of the firings were politically motivated.

McNulty later told the committee that he was not briefed properly before that hearing -- and blamed his testimony on former aide Monica Goodling, who invoked her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination rather than discuss the matter with Congress. A federal judge Friday approved a House Judiciary Committee request that she be granted immunity from prosecution, allowing it to compel her testimony.

Goodling and another aide, Kyle Sampson, have resigned in connection with the controversy.

"Another resignation won't make the unanswered questions about the fired U.S. attorneys disappear," Rep. Rahm Emanuel, the chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, said Monday.

"For months, Democrats have been seeking straight answers about the prosecutor purge," Emanuel said. "Democrats will continue our aggressive investigation into this serious matter. Resignations are no substitute for the truth."

Gonzales has admitted the firings were poorly handled, but has defended his leadership and resisted calls to resign.

"It seems ironic that Paul McNulty, who at least tried to level with the committee, goes while Gonzales, who stonewalled the committee, is still in charge," Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-New York, said in a written statement Monday evening. "This administration owes us a lot better."

In a statement announcing McNulty's resignation, Gonzales praised him as "an effective manager of day-to-day operations" since he took office in November 2005.

"Paul is an outstanding public servant and a fine attorney who has been valued here at the department, by me and so many others, as both a colleague and a friend," Gonzales said. "He will be missed. On behalf of the department, I wish him well in his future endeavors."

McNulty served as U.S. attorney in Alexandria, Virginia, before becoming deputy attorney general on an acting basis in November 2005. He was officially sworn in the following March.

He also led the Justice Department's Office of Policy and Communications from 1990 to 1993, during the first Bush administration.

His resignation will take effect at an unspecified date in late summer.

Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty submitted his resignation to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales on Monday.



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