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MSNBC "The Ed Show" - Transcript

Interview

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BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Congressman, good to have you with us tonight. First of all --

REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D), MARYLAND: Good to be with you, Ed.

SCHULTZ: You bet.

Let`s talk about the vote if we can right off the top. "Politico" is reporting that the Congressional Black Caucus plans to walk off the House floor during tomorrow`s vote. Will you be participating in that and is this going to happen?

CUMMINGS: That decision is still being made. There had been discussions with regard to that because black caucus members feel that this is such a travesty that they do not want to dignify the vote by being present to vote for it or against it. Of course, we`re all against it, but I think that strategy is still being worked out, Ed. But there`s a good possibility.

SCHULTZ: Congressman, what`s your reaction to this report by a "Fortune" magazine, which is one of the most detailed pieces of journalism
we have seen so far on this?

CUMMINGS: Well, I think it really does go hand in hand with my contentions all along that Eric Holder and the president, and -- by the way, we`re in total agreement with Mr. Issa on this one -- did not know about this, did not authorize it, did not condone it, this whole situation.

So, that`s why this contempt vote tomorrow is so unfortunate. Ed, keep in mind that there`s been only -- no one has, no cabinet member in the history of the United States of America has ever been voted in contempt.

And so, this is really sad and very unfortunate.

SCHULTZ: I want to play what Congressman Issa said about you during today`s hearing. Here it is.

ISSA: I believe Mr. Cummings has not lived up to his promise, I wish he had, to the terry family. I believe in spirit he thinks he has, but in reality, this truth, the full truth, is too painful for, in fact, him to take on his own attorney general. And I think that`s one of the problems that goes on in every administration.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ: I want to give you an opportunity to respond to that.

CUMMINGS: Well, I responded in the hearing and told him, and I`ll say it today. In my 61 years in life, I have had nobody to challenge my integrity. Mr. Issa gets confused, when you stand up for the law and you say that -- and I say that we should not be trying to subpoena documents that would be unlawful for the attorney general to give us -- gives to us, and when I say we should not be subpoenaing documents that reveal informants, confidential informants and documents that might interfere with the trial, he automatically thinks you`re trying to defend the attorney general.

I`m trying to stand up for the integrity of the House and for the integrity of the executive branch of government. I make it clear, I hold the executive branch to a very, very high standard, and so, I told Mr. Issa during that hearing that I was insulted by what he said and he owes me an apology.

SCHULTZ: Well, it`s gotten pretty personal down the stretch here leading up to this, but it`s also personal on the president of the United States. They seem to be ignoring the executive privilege the president has invoked here as if it doesn`t even exist.

CUMMINGS: Yes.

SCHULTZ: One can only wonder if this is all about, you know, putting the president in a bad light, putting the attorney general in a bad light, and I will go so far to ask the question, is there an element of racism here?

CUMMINGS: I`m not going to say that, Ed. I leave that to other people to make the determination.

But let me tell you, I think what they`re doing is very political. And I think that if you -- they need to take a step back.One of the things I have said is that Speaker Boehner ought to get involved in this case personally. This is a case that could easily be resolved.

And keep in mind, Ed, the attorney general has provided 7,600 pages of documents, given another 1,300 pages of the documents that are what`s
called deliberative documents that normally are not exposed at all, not given away at all, and he`s tried over and over again, as late as yesterday evening, to try to work this out. Yet, it`s still -- Mr. Issa is trying to bring him up for contempt, and the implication is that he`s not been cooperating and not been working with us.

He has. And he`s done quite a bit to help us.

SCHULTZ: All right.

CUMMINGS: And so -- with regard to Issa, it`s always his way or the highway. And that`s what this boils down to.

SCHULTZ: Well, that`s how the Republicans have been acting since this president took the oath of office.

CUMMINGS: And keep in mind something else, Ed. This started under the Bush administration.

SCHULTZ: Yes.

CUMMINGS: And the same people that were running it under Bush in the Phoenix office are the same folks that tried to run it with regards to this attorney general, under this attorney general. When this Attorney General
Holder found out about it, he immediately stopped it, and ordered an I.G. investigation.

SCHULTZ: I notice you`re at the White House tonight. I understand there`s a bipartisan picnic going on.

CUMMINGS: Yes.

SCHULTZ: I understand that all of the key players are there.

CUMMINGS: Yes.

SCHULTZ: What`s that atmosphere like?

CUMMINGS: You would think everything was going well. You`ve got Issa, you`ve got Boehner, you`ve got the attorney general, the president. You would not think that we were in the kind of situation we`re going to find ourselves in now and tomorrow.

SCHULTZ: And yet tomorrow, they`re on the verge of doing something very embarrassing to the country, would you say?

CUMMINGS: That`s exactly right. I think that their aim is to embarrass this president, embarrass this attorney general, and I think they figure that if they can do that, they`ll be able to help Romney win the presidency.

But I think Americans will see through this and see how political it is.

SCHULTZ: Congressman Elijah Cummings, thanks for your time tonight. I appreciate it so much.

CUMMINGS: Thank you.

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