[JURIST] US Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty [official website] testified [text] before the US Senate Judiciary Committee [official website] Tuesday that thirteen or more federal prosecutors who have been removed over the past two years were not victims of political retaliation, as some Democrats have alleged. McNulty specifically denied that the removal of former US Attorney Carol Lam [US Department of Justice profile], who prosecuted former Republican congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham [JURIST news archive], was motivated by political considerations.
McNulty also denied that the Department has filled vacant attorney positions in a way that circumvented the Senate confirmation process. Assuring the committee that the department is in the process of selecting attorneys, he cited time constraints imposed by the USA Patriot Act renewal [JURIST report] of March 2006. According to a provision in that reauthorization, if the Department of Justice has not appointed an interim attorney within 120 days of a vacancy, district court judges must appoint a replacement. McNulty also criticized the proposed S 214 [PDF text], which would completely transfer the power to fill vacancies to district judges. AP has more.