During the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing yesterday on the U.S. attorney scandal, Sen. Arlen Specter asked former White House political director Sara Taylor “whether [former Arkansas U.S. attorney Bud] Cummins was forced out in order to make room for [Karl Rove protege Tim] Griffin.”
Taylor offered a contradictory response, arguing on the one hand Cummins “had been planning to leave” while on the other hand stating “he was, in fact, fired.”
Later in the hearing, Specter asked if “there was a political overtone to the replacement of Mr. Cummins by Mr. Griffin?” I don’t believe that’s the case at all,” Taylor responded. Watch it:
In today’s Arkansas Times, Bud Cummins shot back, expressing his disagreement with Taylor’s assesment of how and why he was forced out of office:
Taylor said Wednesday it was her understanding that Cummins had stated as early as 2004 that he was planning to leave. Better communication would have made the transition easier, she added.
Cummins said he does not believe his status played a role in his ouster.
“Tim Griffin wanted my job, they decided to give it him, and because of the arrogance and inexperience of the staff-level folks that handled the execution of a poorly thought-out plan, my loyal and arguably successful service was not considered in any way,” Cummins said.
Despite what Taylor claims, there were “political overtones” to Griffin’s replacement of Cummins. Not only did the White House intentionally bypass Senate approval of Griffin, over the objections of Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR), but in December 2006, Kyle Sampson, then-chief of staff to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, wrote in an e-mail that getting Griffin appointed was “important to Harriet, Karl, etc” — Karl being Karl Rove.
UPDATE: Alex Koppelman at Salon spoke to Cummins last night about his reaction to Taylor’s testimony:
Cummins says he thinks the “thing about me announcing to the press an intention to leave is way overblown,” and that he “would like to know who was selling [Taylor] that line.”
Transcript: Read more