PHOENIX – Newly released Justice Department e-mails show Sen. Jon Kyl was upset over the forced resignation of the U.S. attorney for Arizona and administration officials hoped he wouldn’t make it a public issue.
The e-mails, released this week by the House Judiciary Committee as it investigates the firings of nine top prosecutors, supported Kyl’s contention that he opposed the firing of U.S. Attorney Paul K. Charlton.
“I understand that Kyl is significantly disturbed over the Charlton issue,” Rebecca Seidel, a deputy assistant attorney general, wrote in a note to other top Justice officials. “We need to ensure that (Attorney General Alberto Gonzales) is adequately prepared to deal with a question over the firings . . . I am hoping that Kyl would not bring it up in an open hearing.”
The Justice Department has been slowly releasing internal communications to the House committee probing last year’s firings, which has been making them public.
Kyl, R-Ariz., has said he was disturbed by the firings but did not make his opposition public at the time. He said in March that he thought they had been handled in a “hamfisted” way but backed off because Charlton had decided not to fight his dismissal.
A Kyl spokesman said the Justice Department e-mail “confirms what Sen. Kyl has said before.
“Kyl was not at all pleased with the way the Justice Department conducted its dismissal of several U.S. Attorneys, including Paul Charlton from Arizona,” spokesman Andrew Wilder said. “Kyl supported Mr. Charlton’s nomination. And when informed of the department’s decision to dismiss him, Kyl requested that the Justice Department reconsider its decision.”