It's easy to get lost among the scandals and subscandals that make up the administration's firing of eight U.S. attorneys, but one chief allegation is that the Justice Department did its best to discourage the prosecutors from talking to the media and Congress about the firings.
Bud Cummins, the former U.S.A. for Little Rock, Arkansas, testified before Congress about a call he received from Justice Department official Michael Elston in late February with the following message: if the prosecutors didn't stop talking, the Justice Department would hit back.
Now another prosecutor, Seattle's John McKay, says he got a similar call much earlier, before the firings had even been reported. From Newsweek:
After McKay was fired in December, he says he also got a phone call from a "clearly nervous" Elston asking if he intended to go public: "He was offering me a deal: you stay silent and the attorney general won't say anything bad about you."
As with his chat with Cummins, Elston doesn't deny that he made the call. But he tells Newsweek, that he "can't imagine" how McKay interpreted the call that way.
Similarly, Elston wrote in a letter earlier this week that he was "shocked and baffled" by Cummins' interpretation of that call. And he tells Newsweek that all he said to Cummins was that "it's really a shame that all this has to come out in the newspaper." Somehow, Cummins interpreted that as a threat.