Prior to their dismissals, three federal prosecutors whose firings are under scrutiny by Congress were engaged in a struggle with the Justice Department over its expanded pursuit of the federal death penalty. Paul Charlton of Arizona, Margaret Chiara of Michigan, and Kevin Ryan of California were all criticized by Justice officials for failing to seek death sentences as part of a broader use of the federal death penalty begun by former Attorney General John Ashcroft and continued by Alberto Gonzales. As part of the Department's efforts, which included seeking the death penalty in jurisdictions without statues of their own, the Attorney General would override federal prosecutors, and insist that they seek death sentences. Though this happened to Charlton, Chiara and Ryan, it was not cited as a reason for their dismissals. The Justice Department did, however, mention in at least one of their dismissals that they had "no assurance that DOJ priorities/policies [were] being carried out."