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Do they know something we don’t? After just seven months on the job, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales‘ two closest aides — Chief of Staff Theodore Ullyot and senior counselor Raul Yanes — have resigned from their posts at the Justice Department, leading some to speculate that their boss might be slated to fill the open seat on the U.S. Supreme Court. Not so, says Ullyot. “He’s got a lot on his plate as AG. That’s where his attention is focused.” While the high-level departures may not portend a promotion for Gonzales, they do mean the AG will have to run the massive Justice Department without the two advisers he brought with him from the White House in February. The transition comes as the Justice Department is lobbying Congress to renew the USA Patriot Act and preparing for a structural overhaul — all while its critical No. 2 slot remains vacant. Last week the Senate Judiciary Committee postponed a scheduled vote on Tyco lawyer Timothy Flanigan, the president’s pick to replace James Comey as deputy AG. Ullyot, who announced his departure Sept. 16, has accepted a job as vice president and general counsel of ESL Investments, an exclusive hedge fund based in Greenwich, Conn., managed by billionaire Edward Lampert. According to news reports, investors in the fund must put up a minimum of $10 million. Clients include music mogul David Geffen and computer giant Michael Dell. Meanwhile, Yanes left the DOJ earlier this month to serve as general counsel of the White House Office of Management and Budget. His move followed the departure of the agency’s former general counsel, Jennifer Newstead, for the New York law firm Davis Polk & Wardwell. DOJ spokeswoman Tasia Scolinos says she believes Flanigan will be confirmed shortly. In the meantime, she maintains there is a “strong leadership team in place at the top of the department.” Current Deputy Chief of Staff Kyle Sampson will replace Ullyot. In a statement, Gonzales called Sampson “an outstanding lawyer, a strong manager, and a trusted counselor.”
Vanessa Blum can be contacted at [email protected].

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