Dan Eggen for WaPo reports: A U.S. attorney in Seattle was singled out for dismissal in part because he clashed with senior Justice Department officials over the investigation of a federal prosecutor's murder, and he was recommended for removal 18 months earlier than was previously known, according to newly disclosed documents and interviews.
D. Kyle Sampson, former chief of staff to Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, told congressional investigators that he believes he may have recommended former U.S. attorney John McKay's removal in March 2005 because of conflicts with senior Justice officials over the investigation of the 2001 murder of federal prosecutor Tom Wales, according to congressional aides and Sampson's attorney.
The suggestion of a connection between the firing and the unsolved Wales murder case generated angry reactions from McKay and others in western Washington yesterday.
"The idea that I was pushing too hard to investigate the assassination of a federal prosecutor -- it's mind-numbing" that they would suggest that, McKay said. " … If it's true, it's just immoral, and if it's false, then the idea that they would use the death of Tom Wales to cover up what they did is just unconscionable."
Charles Mandigo, who at the time of Wales's murder was special agent in charge of Seattle's FBI office, recalled that McKay, his staff and FBI agents all felt "a little bit neglected" because they did not receive the support they expected for the Wales murder investigation.
McKay's advocacy for the investigation was never "more than normal interplay," said Mandigo, who retired in 2003. "Did he push it? Yeah, he pushed it. Was he ardent? Yeah, he was ardent about it, and I think he should have been."
No Justice official traveled from Washington for Wales's memorial service, Mandigo said, "which I don't think set a very good tone." Eggen also adds some more names to the possible witness list for congressional testimony: In a separate development, officials said that presidential adviser Karl Rove attended a crucial planning meeting March 5, the day before House testimony by Principal Associate Deputy Attorney General William E. Moschella. Moschella and Deputy Attorney General Paul J. McNulty have told congressional investigators that Rove attended the meeting along with White House Counsel Fred F. Fielding, Deputy Counsel William Kelley and other White House aides, congressional aides said. It would seem that Fred Fielding might himself be in need of a lawyer.