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The nomination of Tyco lawyer Timothy Flanigan to serve as the Justice Department’s deputy attorney general clearly hit a few bumps in recent weeks. Still, Flanigan’s decision to withdraw his name from consideration late last week came as a surprise — even to those working to defeat him. “It’s a big deal. This is an administration that doesn’t withdraw people, and they never back down,” says Christopher Anders, legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union. Flanigan declines comment. One of his strongest supporters, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), called it a “sad day when the politics of personal destruction drives good people from public service.” Flanigan, who previously served as deputy White House counsel and as head of the DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel, faced questions about his ties to indicted Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff and his role in setting administration interrogation policies. Senate Democrats also attacked Flanigan for his lack of experience as a prosecutor. Word from one DOJ insider is that this time around, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales will be looking for someone with a law enforcement background. Some possible contenders: Paul McNulty, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; William Mercer, U.S. attorney for the District of Montana, who is currently detailed to the deputy AG’s office; and Karen Tandy, administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration.
Vanessa Blum can be contacted at [email protected].

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