Back to attorneygate -- UPDATE II | Arkansas Blog

Back to attorneygate -- UPDATE II

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Thanks to Rosso for lifting me from the school district muck and pointing me to another Talking Points Memo dispatch on documents in the great U.S. attorney purge. Bud Cummins, the ousted U.S. attorney in LR, has been caught talking straight again. A key point is his report to the Justice Department that, their assertions to the contrary, his successor Tim Griffin had been telling people that he'd serve out the Bush tenure as U.S. attorney, Senate confirmation or not. Cummins refers to a conversation with top aide Mike Elston:

Elston agreed with me that I had been fired simply to allow Tim Griffin to have the job. He assured me that the other cases were different and that if I knew the reasons behind those firings I would agree that “they had to go.” He didn’t know if they would ever be able to fix the record in regard to me, but he said he would see if they could avoid repeating similar statements in the future.

Finally, I expressed concern that the AG’s statement that DOJ would seek a presidential nomination for the USA in every district was going to cause trouble here in Arkansas because it appeared to me that there was no intention to put Tim Griffin through a nomination. Elston rejected that notion and assured me that every replacement would have to be confirmed by the Senate. I told him if that was the case, then he had better gag Tim Griffin because Griffin was telling many people, including me, that officials in Washington had assured him he could stay in as USA pursuant to an interim appointment whether he was ever nominated or not. Elston denied knowing anything about anyone’s intention to circumvent Senate confirmation in Griffin’s case. He said that might have been the White House’s plan, but they “never read DOJ into that plan” and DOJ would never go along with it. [Editor's note: Of course, they did.] This indicated to me that my removal had been dictated entirely by the White House. He said Griffin would be confirmed or have to resign. I remember that part of the conversation well because I then said to Elston that it looked to me that if Tim Griffin couldn’t get confirmed and had to then resign, then I would have resigned for nothing, and to that, after a brief pause Elston replied, “yes, that’s right.”

UPDATE: This is as good a place as any to link to Jacksonville editor Garrick Feldman's letter blistering assistant U.S. attorney Robert Govar for an e-mail Govar sent threatening to sue Feldman over his column about Govar's testimony in the Lonoke sex scandal case. Feldman offers praise for Griffin's demotion of Govar and further suggests that he should be fired.

UPDATE II: A new investigation of attorneygate is launched. They are closing in on the apparent fact that hiring of U.S. attorneys was put in the hands of political operatives who vetted them for political acceptability, a theoretical no-no in the civil service system.

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