Washington The No. 2 Justice Department official who came under fire for his testimony to Congress about the firings of eight U.S. attorneys announced his resignation on Monday.
Paul J. McNulty, the deputy attorney general since March 2006, said in his resignation letter to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales that he would step down on a date to be determined in late summer.
McNulty is the fourth Justice Department official to resign amid the controversy over eight ousted U.S. attorneys who'd fallen out of favor with the Bush administration. Gonzales' chief of staff, a top aide and the head of the office that oversees federal prosecutors also have stepped down.
When asked whether McNulty had resigned in connection with the firings, Justice Department spokesman Dean Boyd responded: "The resignation letter speaks for itself." He declined further comment.
In his letter, McNulty said his decision was sparked by the "financial realities of college-age children," although he didn't say whether he'd accepted another job.
Several leading Democrats, however, said they believed McNulty's resignation was linked to the congressional investigation into the firings.
"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," said Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., a leader of the Senate's inquiry.
McNulty is one of several officials who've come under scrutiny as the administration's explanation to Congress about the firings shifted and some officials - including Gonzales - contradicted themselves.
In testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee in February, McNulty said that the firings of most of the prosecutors were "performance-related."
At the time, he acknowledged that Bud Cummins, former U.S. attorney in Little Rock, Ark., wasn't asked to step aside for performance reasons, but to make way for a former aide to presidential political adviser Karl Rove.