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RUSH: Jan Crawford Greenburg is a legal reporter for ABC News. She’s excellent. She’s rare. I’m not going to say too much because I’ll ruin her career. It’s happened too many times. I’ve praised various journalists, networks, and they get in trouble. So Jan Crawford Greenburg produced a story here, an exclusive: ‘Department of Justice Official Ignored White House Guidance; Testimony Contradicted Gonzales in U.S. Attorney Matter, Sparked Controversy — The firestorm over the fired U.S. attorneys was sparked last month when a top Justice Department official ignored guidance from the White House and rejected advice from senior administration lawyers over his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

‘The official, Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty, ignored White House Counsel Harriet Miers and senior lawyers in the Justice Department when he told the committee last month of specific reasons why the administration fired seven U.S. attorneys — and appeared to acknowledge for the first time that politics was behind one dismissal. McNulty’s testimony directly conflicted with the approach Miers advised, according to an unreleased internal White House e-mail described to ABC News. According to that e-mail, sources said, Miers said the administration should take the firm position that it would not comment on personnel issues. Until McNulty’s testimony, administration officials had consistently refused to publicly say why specific attorneys were dismissed and insisted that the White House had complete authority to replace them.’

Which is true.

‘That was Attorney General Alberto Gonzales’ approach when he testified before the committee in January. But McNulty, who worked on Capitol Hill 12 years, believed he had little choice but to more fully discuss the circumstances of the attorneys’ firings, according to a senior Justice Department official familiar the circumstances. McNulty believed the senators would demand additional information, and he was confident he could draw on a long relationship with New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, a Democrat, in explaining in more detail.’

So he thought if he would just open up to Schumer, it would quell all of this.

‘In doing so, however, McNulty went well beyond the scope of what the White House cleared him to say when it approved his written testimony the week before the hearing. … Senators now are focusing on the part of McNulty’s testimony that appeared to directly contradict the earlier testimony by Gonzales. A source close to McNulty said he had believed he was not contradicting Gonzales’s testimony and was, in fact, conveying the same message as his boss.’ The story goes on to say that ‘McNulty also stressed that the other U.S. attorneys were fired for what he described as ‘performance-related’ reasons, suggesting the prosecutors had not been up to par. But that appeared to conflict with assurances Gonzales and other Justice Department officials had made about the U.S. attorneys to senators from the respective states, including Kyl. Gonzales had told Kyl privately that the administration was dismissing Paul Charlton, the U.S. attorney in Arizona whom the senator had personally recommended, because of disagreements over policy.

‘Charlton had crossed paths with the Justice Department over his reluctance to seek the death penalty in some cases, as well as his insistence that the FBI should record confessions. … At one point, one of the lawyers asked about Cummins’s dismissal and how McNulty could explain that using the ‘performance-related’ phrase, the source said. McNulty said he would ‘just explain the White House had a candidate for the job,’ the source said. ‘That opened up the entire thing,’ said a source with knowledge of the meeting. ‘The phrase ‘performance-related’ is where all this goes wrong.’ Instead of accepting those explanations, however, Schumer aggressively challenged McNulty during the hearing over perceived inconsistencies in his testimony and that of Gonzales.

”This is the first we’ve heard of this,’ Schumer said incredulously, moments after McNulty revealed that Cummins was fired so Griffin could step in.’ Anyway, there have been a lot of people suggesting that McNulty’s ambitious, wants to be attorney general, and might be behind this in the sense that he is purposely going beyond what the administration had authorized be said, and then confiding in Schumer thinking he can quell the whole thing. So the plot thickens in all this. You have the first Hispanic-American attorney general, a minority, under fire by white liberal racists in the Senate. He’s not the first, by the way. We’ll never forget what happened to Miguel Estrada. His wife ended up committing suicide over what they did to him. It’s horrible.

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