A high-ranking Justice Department official told one of the U.S. attorneys fired by the Bush administration that if any of them continued to criticize the administration for their ousters, previously undisclosed details about the reasons they were fired might be released, two of the ousted prosecutors told McClatchy Newspapers.
While the U.S. attorney who got the call regarded the tone of the conversation as congenial, not intimidating, the prosecutor nonetheless passed the message on to five other fired U.S. attorneys. One of them interpreted the reported comments by Michael Elston, the chief of staff to Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty, as a threat.
Justice Department officials denied that the conversation with the U.S. attorney ever took place, and Elston said he called several of the fired U.S. attorneys but never made any such comments.
“I had no conversation in which I discussed with any U.S. attorney what they should or should not say to the media regarding their removal,” Elston said.
The two prosecutors who described the call demanded anonymity because, they said, they didn’t want to antagonize the Justice Department further.
Justice Department spokesman Brian Roehrkasse criticized McClatchy for running the story. “It is unfortunate that the press would choose to run an allegation from an anonymous source from a conversation that never took place,” he said.
If this was not the every day strategy of this administration, I might believe the notion this is a press conspiracy. But let’s face it- these guys politicized NASA and the FDA- does anyone think this sounds out of line?