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NOW on the News
3.16.07

NOW on the News with Maria Hinojosa

Bud Cummins on the U.S. Attorney Firings

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This week, Maria Hinojosa speaks with Bud Cummins, a former U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas, who was one of eight federal prosecutors fired by the Justice Department. Cummins, a Republican, shares his beliefs on the involvement of senior administration officials, the credibility and morale problems of the Justice Department, and the tenous future of the Patriot Act.

Interview Excerpts

"They [the fired federal prosecutors] don't deserve to be slandered in this way. They should be commended for their service and if the President wants to go in a different direction for whatever reason that's his legal right. Now he can defend those decisions to Congress however he wants but he can't make thinks up. And that's what's happened here."

"The Chief of Staff of the Deputy Attorney General, Mike Elston, called me... and he said if this controversy continues to be stirred up, the [Justice] Department is going to be put in a position where they're likely going to have to roll out more embarrassing information to justify these decisions."

"It's painful for me to have to take my own party and my own former colleagues to task, but they're just simply wrong on this. There's an issue of right and wrong, and it's not political."

"Will Moschella [Associate Deputy Attorney General] described a deliberative committee performance review process that had taken place of all the U.S. Attorneys. If anything even resembling the process that he described to Congress had taken place, there would be a stack of memos a mile high ... The memo hasn't been produced because it doesn't exist because such an exercise never took place."

"My mom is 80 years old, and she's just afraid that her boy —someone's going to paint a target on his back. And if I become too much of an annoyance that one of these guys may try to take me out. And frankly, they have already, you know, in subtle and not so subtle ways, tried to discredit me to the media and say things."

About Bud Cummins

Bud Cummins served as U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas from 2001 to December 2006. Before taking the federal prosecutor's job, Cummins served as Gov. Mike Huckabee's chief legal counsel in 1997.

In 1996, he ran for the 2nd District congressional seat representing central Arkansas, but was beaten by Democrat Vic Snyder, who still holds the post. Cummins obtained his J.D. from the University of Arkansas law school.

Cummins is currently working as a consultant for a bio-fuel company.

NOW Topic Search: Government/Politics

Cummins' E-mail to Attorneys

From: H.E. Cummins
Sent: Tue 2/20/2007 5:06 PM
To: Dan Bogden; Paul K. Charlton; David Iglesias; Carol Lam; McKay, John (Law Adjunct)
Subject: on another note

Mike Elston from the DAG's (Deputy Attorney General's) office called me today. The call was amiable enough, but clearly spurred by the Sunday Post article. The essence of his message was that they feel like they are taking unnecessary flak to avoid trashing each of us specifically or further, but if they feel like any of us intend to continue to offer quotes to the press, or organize behind the scenes congressional pressure, then they would feel forced to somehow pull their gloves off and offer public criticisms to defend their actions more fully. I can't offer any specific quotes, but that was clearly the message. I was tempted to challenge him and say something movie-like such as "are you threatening ME???", but instead I kind of shrugged it off and said I didn't sense that anyone was intending to perpetuate this. He mentioned my quote on Sunday and I didn't apologize for it, told him it was true and that everyone involved should agree with the truth of my statement, and pointed out to him that I stopped short of calling them liars and merely said that IF they were doing as alleged they should retract. I also made it a point to tell him that all of us have turned down multiple invitations to testify. He reacted quite a bit to the idea of anyone voluntarily testifying and it seemed clear that they would see that as a major escalation of the conflict meriting some kind of unspecified form of retaliation.

I don't personally see this as any big deal and it sounded like the threat of retaliation amounts to a threat that they would make their recent behind doors senate presentation public. I didn't tell him that I had heard about the details in that presentation and found it to be a pretty weak threat since everyone that heard it apparently thought it was weak.

I don't want to stir you up conflict or overstate the threatening undercurrent in the call, but the message was clearly there and you should be aware before you speak to the press again if you choose to do that. I don't feel like I am betraying him by reporting this to you because I think that is probably what he wanted me to do. Of course, I would appreciate maximum opsec (operational security) regarding this email and ask that you not forward it or let others read it.

Bud

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