If anyone has a lot of free time on their hands, check out this thread over at TPMMuckraker, where commenters are rifling through the 3,000 documents dumped recently by the Justice Department. It's a handy resource. The first thing to catch my eye was an email from Bud Cummins, one of the attorneys ostensibly fired for "performance-related reasons." I take it this came after Cummins went public and told the Washington Post on February 17 that he had actually received positive marks from his evaluators:

Mike Elston from the DAG's office called me today. The call was amiable enough, but clearly spurred by the Sunday Post article. The essence of his message was that they feel like they are taking unnecessary flak to avoid trashing each of us specifically or further, but if they feel like any of us intend to continue to offer quotes to the press, or organize behind the scenes congressional pressure, then they would feel forced to somehow pull their gloves off and offer public criticisms to defend their actions more fully.

I can't offer any specific quotes, but that was clearly the message. I was tempted to challenge him and say something movie-like such as "are you threatening ME???", but instead I kind of shrugged it off and said I didn't sense that anyone was intending to perpetuate this. He mentioned my quote from Sunday and I didn't apologize for it, told him it was true and that everyone involved should agree with the truth of my statement, and pointed out to him that I stopped short of calling them liars and merely said that IF they were doing as alleged then they should retract.

I also made it a point to tell him that all of us have turned down multiple invitations to testify. He reacted quite a bit to the idea of anyone voluntarily testifying and it seemed clear that they would see that as a major escalation of the conflict meaning some kind of unspecified form of retaliation.

Cummins added that he didn't want to "stir up conflict" or "overstate the threatening undercurrent of the call," but I'd be curious to know what kind of threats the Justice Department was making.

--Bradford Plumer