Bit by bit, word has leaked out from congressional investigators' interviews with the Justice Department officials involved in the firings. And one by one, they've denied responsibility for putting certain U.S. attorneys' names on the list.
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Let's go down the list. Michael Battle, the former Director of the Executive Office of United States Attorneys, Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty, Kyle Sampson, and William E. Moschella, the principal associate deputy attorney general, all have told Congress that they did not put any names on the list. And today The Washington Post reports that David Margolis, the senior career official at the department, claims responsibility for adding a single name: Kevin Ryan. Ryan, you might remember, is the only U.S. attorney who everyone agrees had actual performance issues. Margolis also says he fingered U.S. Attorney from western Michigan Margaret Chiara as having managerial issues in her office, but it's unclear if he's responsible for her name being on the list.
For all six of the U.S. attorneys at the center of the controversy -- Carol Lam, Daniel Bogden, Bud Cummins, John McKay, Paul Charlton, and David Iglesias -- no one has taken responsibility.
Only three Justice Department officials who were supposedly consulted to construct the firing list remain unaccounted for. Two of them -- Michael Elston, Paul McNulty's chief of staff, and acting Associate Attorney General William Mercer, the absentee U.S. Attorney for Montana -- have already been interviewed by congressional investigators. The strong impression given by public comments by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) since those interviews is that neither have taken responsibility for adding any names.
*Update: House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-MI) was even more explicit in his opening statement yesterday: "We have interviewed numerous senior officials in the Department, and all deny making the actual decision to place these names on the list."
The third and sole remaining Justice Department offiical is Monica Goodling, the liaison to the White House. She, of course, is yet to be interviewed.