Breaking: Paulose resigns


Rachel Paulose resigned from the U.S. Attorney’s office. She is moving to the Department of Justice in Washington.

At 3:13 p.m., the attorneys in the Minnesota Office of the U.S. Attorney received the following email message:

Subject: A message to my colleagues

Dear Colleagues:

I have accepted a new position in Washington, D.C. I will be serving as Counselor to the Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Policy. I am excited for a new opportunity to work on policy issues that are important to the mission of the Department.

I have been honored by the opportunity to serve the United States in this capacity and to work with you, our tremendous law enforcement partners, and the people of Minnesota. I expect my last day in this Office to be towards the end of this year.

I am very grateful for the hard work of the talented AUSAs and staff in this office. Your efforts in the pursuit of justice have been outstanding, and the accomplishments of the past two years have produced a record in which you should take great pride.

I wish you all the best in the future.

With Appreciation,
Rachel K. Paulose
United States Attorney, District of Minnesota

The mood in the office is described as a combination of relief and euphoria.

One member of the office’s leadership team resigned this morning (not sure whether that person might withdraw the resignation) and others were discussing a group resignation to protest the continuing problems with Paulose’s leadership.

Without comment from Paulose, I can’t say whether the timing of her announcement was an effort to head off the embarrassment of a second group of leaders resigning in protest, but as of Friday, Paulose was still fighting to save her job.

Paulose alienated most of the office staff with a leadership style that was described as insulting, an inability to listen respectfully to opinions that ran contrary to her own. Recently, she has been under investigation by two federal agencies for a series of alleged misdeeds, mostly involving the way she treated the staff but also her alleged improper handling of classified national security materials. She was also the subject of a very negative job review, based substantially on her management style.

Her own Washington political base crumpled over recent months, as Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and most of his team, including those who had advocated Paulose’s appointment, left their jobs under a cloud. The cloud was caused, in large measure, by their efforts to replace U.S. attorneys whom they viewed as insufficiently loyal to the Bush administration, with new appointees, including Paulose, whom they deemed (as one of the group unfortunately described it in an email that later became public) “loyal Bushies.”

The replacement of Gonzales by Attorney Gen. Michael Mukasey led to a new round of speculation that Paulose would be asked to resign. but she had vowed to stay. In recent months, in hopes of keeping her job and reducing conflict in the office, Paulose had largely avoided contact with much of the staff and spent many days out of the office.

Last week, Paulose and some of her allies mounted a new defense of her, attempting to portray her as a victim of racism, sexism, ageism, bias against her conservative ideology and her religious faith, and as a victim of unnamed elements within the Justice Department who supposedly didn’t like the fact that she was aggressively prosecuting human trafficking.

If, in fact, the final straw leading to her resignation was the prospect of more resignations, she may have caused it herself with those statements. Much of the staff was offended by the blanket and unsubstantiated assignment of biased motives to her critics, and by the fact that she made public statements against her accusers while the accusers did not.

The discussion, over the weekend and during the day today of a mass resignation of the supervisors may have been motivated somewhat by her comments last week.

Since Paulose is remaining in a federal government job, at least one of the investigations may continue to haunt her. The Office of Special Counsel, which is investigating several prohibited personnel practices that Paulose allegedly committed, will continue its investigation and if the special counsel makes an adverse finding, the consequences could follow her to her new Washington job.