At this point it's probably fair to say that the Justice Department's leadership probably didn't expect quite the firestorm that's followed the forced resignations of at least seven US attorneys this winter. But one question that's always intrigued the BLT is: who gets to fire a U.S. attorney? At the Justice Department only Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales outrank the nation's 93 presidentially-appointed, Senate-confirmed U.S. attorneys. But the BLT always assumed that it wasn't Gonzales or McNulty but some poor subordinate who had to actually spend an entire morning firing people over the phone.
Now there's confirmation. According to this new Salon article, the man who actually told former San Diego U.S. Attorney Carol Lam and the rest of the lot to take a hike was a humble non-Senate confirmed career Justice Department official. That would be Michael Battle, a former New York state judge and career prosecutor who heads the Justice Department's Executive Office of U.S. Attorneys.