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Chicago — U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald sidestepped questions Thursday about recent news reports that he received a mediocre ranking in an evaluation by a U.S. Justice Department official, saying “it really is not that big a deal to me.” The March 2005 Justice Department rankings came to light recently amid a congressional firestorm over the part they may have played in the department’s firing of U.S. attorneys last year. “I think I’ve done the best job I can,” Fitzgerald said at the end of a press conference on an unrelated indictment of a retired Chicago Streets and Sanitation Department commissioner. In his first Chicago press conference since winning a perjury conviction in Washington against Lewis Libby, a former aide to Vice President Dick Cheney, Fitzgerald said he was simply getting back to work in Chicago. “I’ve just stepped out of the D.C. fishbowl and I’m not looking to plunge back in,” he said, with respect to the Justice rankings. “I’m going to let that sort itself out in D.C. and obviously there’s some important issues to be resolved.” He said he was heartened to be receiving additional funding for his office to recoup some that was lost and will evaluate the possibility for hiring in light of that relief and any departing personnel.

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