One of the eight former U.S. attorneys fired by the Bush administration said yesterday that White House officials questioned his performance in highly partisan political terms at a meeting in Washington in September, three months before his dismissal.
John McKay of Washington state, who had decided two years earlier not to bring voter fraud charges that could have undermined a Democratic victory in a closely fought gubernatorial race, said White House counsel Harriet Miers and her deputy, William Kelley, “asked me why Republicans in the state of Washington would be angry with me.”
McKay said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that the question — which he took as a challenge to his 2004 decision — surprised him because the issue had been reviewed by his office and supported by the FBI’s office in Seattle. “We expected to be supported by people in Washington, D.C., when we make tough decisions like that,” McKay said.
He added that he took umbrage at the idea that he had other responsibilities beyond focusing “on the evidence and not allow[ing] politics into the work that we do in criminal prosecutions.” Those involved in the scandal over the firings who acted unprofessionally “or even illegally” must be held accountable for what they did, he said.
McKay’s disclosure of an explicit White House question about the damage his decision caused to his standing among party loyalists added new detail to his previous statement that Miers accused him of having “mishandled” the voter fraud inquiry.