Indicia of guilt

Alberto Gonzales' chief of staff didn't want ousted U.S. attorney testifying before the Senate.

Published March 20, 2007 5:50AM (EDT)

More from the documents released by the Justice Department Monday night:

On Feb. 1, 2007, Michael Elston, the chief of staff for Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty, sent an e-mail message to McNulty, Kyle Sampson and other top Justice Department officials informing them that Bud Cummins -- the Arkansas U.S. attorney ousted to make way for Friend of Rove Tim Griffin -- had been asked to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Elston asked for the "thoughts" of those on his e-mail list.

Sampson, who was then Alberto Gonzales' chief of staff, responded with an e-mail message in which he said that he didn't think Cummins should testify.

Sampson asked how Cummins would answer a series of questions he apparently found a little complicated:

"Did you resign voluntarily?"

"Were you told why you were being asked to resign?"

"Who told you?"

"What did they say?"

"Did you ever talk to Tim Griffin about his becoming U.S. Attorney?"

"What did Griffin say?"

"Did Griffin ever talk about being AG appointed and avoiding Senate confirmation?"

"Were you asked to resign because you were underperforming?"

"If not, then why? Etc., etc."

Elston said he agreed with Sampson's analysis. Cummins didn't testify at the hearing.

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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