Got That?
By Brad Friedman on 4/27/2007, 5:39pm PT  

Good lord. The Abramoff scandal now seems to be rotting from inside of the DoJ itself. As if it needed any help.

This from McClatchy late this afternoon (via TPM):

WASHINGTON - A senior Justice Department official has resigned after coming under scrutiny in the Department’s expanding investigation of convicted super-lobbyist Jack Abramoff, according to a Justice Department official with knowledge of the case.

Making the situation more awkward for the embattled Department, the official, Robert E. Coughlin II, was deputy chief of staff for the criminal division, which is overseeing the Department’s probe of Abramoff.

He stepped down effective April 6 as investigators in Coughlin’s own division ratcheted up their investigation of lobbyist Kevin Ring, Coughlin’s long-time friend and a key associate of Abramoff.

When contacted at his home in Washington, Coughlin said he resigned voluntarily because he was relocating to Texas. “I was not asked to resign,” he said in an interview with McClatchy Newspapers. “It’s important to me that it's made clear that I left voluntarily.”

He said he couldn’t comment on the Abramoff investigation, nor on whether he has a job lined up in Texas. He referred all other questions to friend Michael Horowitz.

Horowitz, a criminal defense attorney and former Justice Department official and public corruption prosecutor, did not respond to questions, including about whether he is representing Coughlin.

Get your brain around all of that if ya can, as we head into the weekend with the wheels continuing to come off this thing, with a new shoe dropping, it seems, every hour or so of late.

And if you're having trouble keeping score --- at least in the Abramoff game --- McClatchy summarizes our story so far this way:

Coughlin appears to be the first Justice Department official to come under scrutiny in the wide-ranging probe that has implicated a veteran congressman, a deputy Cabinet secretary, a White House aide and eight others.

To which we'll add: So far.

It's gonna get much worse before it gets anything close to better.