Off Abramoff's Case

When Noel Hillman, head of the corruption probe surrounding lobbyist Jack Abramoff, stepped down last week after President Bush nominated him for a federal judgeship in New Jersey, some couldn't help wondering whether the appointment's timing was just coincidence or the calculated removal of an aggressive prosecutor from an explosive case. Sources at the Justice Department tell TIME it's the former--the nomination had been in the works for nearly a year. Hillman, chief of the Office of Public Integrity since 2003, says he asked to be replaced once the nomination was announced. "The chief of Public Integrity," he tells TIME, "should come...

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