A coup in the Attorney General’s Office?

Erick Erickson had a post at Red State over the weekend that provides some interesting insight into what’s going on regarding the US attorney firings and AG Alberto Gonzales.

Let’s be clear, no one is excited about Alberto Gonzales, but even a cursory reading of Jan Crawford Greenburg’s book Supreme Conflict shows AGAG to not only be conservative, but also one of the people who kept, or at least tried to keep, the President from doing all sorts of dumb things — including advising against the appointment of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court.

Paul McNulty, on the other hand, wants to be Attorney General. I’ve been told by several highly reliable people that it is McNulty’s office that is now leaking like a sieve everything they can find to cast the blame at the White House and Alberto Gonzales. It is McNulty who smeared the reputations of the eight fired U.S. Attorneys. It is McNulty who most likely added Kevin Ryan, a very popular and very competent U.S. Attorney in San Francisco, to the list of the fired. And McNulty is being aided an abetted by several career Democrats at Justice who President Bush should have fired when he came into office.

Let me put this bluntly: there is a coup going on at the Department of Justice. It has been fostered by career Democrats the President should have fired, but did not. It has now picked up momentum by a less than competent Deputy AG who has decided he can shove out his boss in a series of leaks and take his boss’s job.

Erick posts today that the Washington Prowler is hearing the same thing:

The White House continues to struggle with the ongoing controversy over the Department of Justice’s decision to push out eight U.S. Attorneys last December, in part because of leaks that continue over at the Department of Justice.

“Judge [Alberto] Gonzales is not being well served by people in senior positions over there, who perhaps see an opportunity to push him out the door to create opportunities for others,” says a White House source.

When asked to be specific, the source declined, but others inside the White House and the DOJ suspect that the staff of Deputy Attorney General McNulty has been the most active, anti-Gonzales leakers in the past week.

“McNulty’s crew has been pretty confident that they aren’t going to get taken down in this whole mess. They have been acting downright cocky with me,” says a reporter who works out of the Justice Department.

The White House has complained to the Justice Department about the release of documents and e-mails it has not seen or been made aware of. “Reporters are asking about things we’ve never seen,” says another White House source. “It’s just drip, drip, drip, and it’s clearly an organized leaking effort.”

Sources familiar with the staff of the Deputy Attorney General say its members believe he is in line to replace Gonzales as Attorney General at least on an interim basis, but that McNulty wants the job permanently.

“What’s interesting is that when you look at the e-mail traffic from [former Gonzales chief of staff] Kyle Sampson on the plans to remove some U.S. Attorneys, McNulty is cc’d on a few of them. He clearly knew what was going on,” says a Republican Senate Judiciary staffer. “We wonder why the media is giving him a break.”

If AG Gonzales resigns, it’s one more dent in the Bush Administration’s armor, so of course the liberal media will encourage his resignation. Giving McNulty a pass just helps their cause.

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