It's still good to be a friend of Karl Rove's

Deputy attorney general defends firing of federal prosecutors.

Published February 7, 2007 4:31AM (EST)

Bud Cummins, a former U.S. attorney in Arkansas, was one of seven federal prosecutors asked to resign last year by the Justice Department. But Cummins was special. As the Washington Post reported over the weekend, department officials have suggested that all of the other prosecutors had "performance problems." Cummins' sin? The Post said that Tim Griffin, a former aide to Karl Rove, wanted his job.

At a hearing Tuesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty dodged questions about the reason for Cummins' dismissal. He said that politics were not in play. But when pressed by New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, McNulty admitted that department officials weren't looking for the "best person possible" to hold the top federal prosecutor's job in Little Rock, but rather thought that they could "make a change" that "would still be good for the office."

Schumer peered skeptically over his glasses at the deputy attorney general. "It sure doesn't smell too good," he said.

By Robin Bravender

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