Prosecutor's firing linked to death probe

May 5, 2007 at 8:08 PM

WASHINGTON, May 5 (UPI) -- A U.S. attorney whose dismissal is being investigated by Congress was singled out because he differed with superiors on investigating a prosecutor's death.

John McKay, the former U.S. attorney in Seattle, was recommended for removal 18 months earlier than was previously known, The Washington Post reported Saturday, citing newly disclosed documents and interviews.

D. Kyle Sampson, a former chief of staff to U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, told congressional investigators he may have recommended McKay's removal in March 2005, because McKay clashed with senior Justice Department officials over the investigation of the 2001 slaying of federal prosecutor Tom Wales, the newspaper said.

Citing officials familiar with the investigation, the Post reported that McKay and other officials in Seattle believed senior Justice Department officials were not paying sufficient attention to the case.

McKay was highly critical of the suggestion there might be a connection between his dismissal and the unsolved Wales case.

"The idea that I was pushing too hard to investigate the assassination of a federal prosecutor -- it's mind-numbing" he told the Post. "... If it's true, it's just immoral, and if it's false, then the idea that they would use the death of Tom Wales to cover up what they did is just unconscionable."

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