"Today I was shocked to read in the Washington Post that Tom Heffelfinger, the former U.S. Attorney for the District of Minnesota, was among those recommended for removal by the Justice Department under Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

"Tom Heffelfinger had previously been appointed U.S. Attorney for Minnesota by the first Bush administration in 1991; and had the distinction of being appointed again, in 2001 by George W. Bush.

"During his second term as U.S. Attorney, I had the privilege of working with Tom as the district attorney and chief prosecutor for Minnesota's largest county.

"The relationship between a U.S. Attorney and the district attorney for a large metropolitan county is a very important one but also a difficult one. I can tell you this, it has been my experience that the people of the country don't care who prosecute a case—they don't care if it's a local attorney or a state attorney or a federal attorney—they just want us to get the job done.

"That was the spirit with which I worked with Tom Heffelfinger and his predecessor, B. Todd Jones who was appointed by President Clinton. When I was first elected in 1998 B. Todd Jones had been appointed by President Clinton Todd Jones and I forged an excellent relationship: We spoke often about the various cases in our jurisdiction in the surrounding area and together we worked when jurisdictional lines were blurred deciding if a case would be prosecuted federally or locally.

"It's not a small thing. In other jurisdictions there are often disputes that are not in the best interest of the citizens. But we were able to forge that relationship. I remember that we made a plan early on and that is that we were going to work together.

"And I remember when Mr. Jones and I decided that we were going to have a party for our joint offices and he invited the County Attorney's prosecutors over to the U.S. Attorneys and I have to tell you there is traditionally a little jealousy that goes on. The County Attorneys always look at the U.S. Attorneys and figure they can have less cases and more resources to do those fewer cases. And the U.S. Attorneys may look at the County Attorneys and say why can't they spend more time on a case?

"So we decided we'd bring the people together. I still remember when we had the party at their beautiful offices. I got there first and I never told my office but U.S. Attorney Todd Jones got on the intercom and before my office came over said 'nail down the furniture the cousins are coming over.'

"Since then we've forged an amazing relationship.

"So when George W. Bush appointed Tom Heffelfinger as U.S. Attorney, Tom Heffelfinger of course was a Republican, I was a Democrat. You might think that there would be problems, well there weren't. Tom Heffelfinger basically ran the office the same way that Todd Jones did in a professional manner. Many of the same people continued to work there and in fact the Chief Deputy remained the same under both the Republican appointed U.S. Attorney and the Democratic appointed U.S. Attorney.

"An example of Tom's professionalism comes to mind when there was an armored truck robbery in the southern suburbs in our metropolitan area. The victim was killed execution style. He was kneeling next to a truck, he was a Brinks truck driver, and the case had gone unsolved for a number of years. And Tom came to my office - I want you to know that he didn't have to do this, he could have had just a press conference and announced the charges and that would be the end of it. But he came to my office weeks before the case was charged to tell me that he thought that they were closing in on the suspect.

"To tell me that he knew that for most cases, murders were handled by our office but that this case was going to be different. It was different because the feds had been investigating it for a number of years. It was different because it involved an armored truck. It was also different because it could potentially be eligible for the death penalty and he knew that I was personally opposed to the death penalty and that Minnesota didn't have a death penalty.

"But nothing required him to come and talk to me about that case but Tom Heffelfinger did because he had the respect for me and he had the respect for our office that you don't always see in people in government service.

"Our office jointly prosecuted many cases and when there was a jurisdictional issue, Tom and I would always talk about it. We did a number of criminal focused initiatives together. We saw our offices as partners not as rivals. And as time when on, as the years went on, the respect between both our offices grew. And as I said each came to see each other, the people in our office, not as rivals but as partners in justice.

"That is way I am so appalled that someone like Tom Heffelfinger was targeted for firing. I take Tom at his word - and we've talked many times in the last few months - that he had made a decision to leave the office, that he never knew he was on such a list, that he made a decision based on the fact that his wife was going to retire.

"But the issue is not that he made the decision on his own. The issue is that someone with such integrity as Tom Heffelfinger was ever targeted by this Justice Department for firing.

"I've always believed that as a prosecutor you do your job without fear or favor. It may not be easy but whatever your decisions, and you know that they're not going to make everyone happy, but whatever your decisions, you want to know at the end of the day that you did the right thing and then you have no regrets.

"Well we have learned these past few months that our nation's chief law enforcement officer, our leading guardian of the rule of law in this country, has allowed politics to creep too close to the core of our legal system. This administration has determined that Washington politicians - not prosecutors out in the field - and even perhaps some cases not the facts themselves, will dictate how prosecutions should proceed. "The consequences are simply unacceptable. Good prosecutors like Tom Heffelfinger who by all accounts have been just doing their jobs, upholding their oaths, following the principles of their professions we find out were targeted for firing.

"And the new information we also got this week is while this Administration repeatedly said 'well we were only focusing on these eight prosecutors' it turned out it was 26 people that they were considering. That's why I am asking the Justice Department today that they tell us why would Tom Heffelfinger, someone of such integrity, even be on this list. And I'm asking our Judiciary Committee to look into the fact that this man, this good man was even on this list.

"We have seen cases all over the country now where prosecutors were pressured, that they were fired, that they were unfairly slandered by this Administration and all of this it would seem was motivated by rank politics.

"This was the week that was law enforcement week and it made me a little melancholy for my previous job. I had a number of police come in talk to me, so many of them that I had known and worked with and we talked about cases. And I also treasured the relationships and the work I did with the prosecutors throughout our state from the smallest counties to the U.S. Attorney's office.

"This is what our justice system is about in America. It's about putting justice first. It's about doing our jobs without fear or favor. That is why I believe that this Attorney General must resign. I've been saying it for months. But you simply cannot have a cloud over the Justice Department where they can't be doing their jobs because they are constantly plagued by investigations and by everything that's been going on because of the brute political decisions made by this Administration.

"This is just wrong. I call for the resignation of this Attorney General and I ask that the country understand what a great man Tom Heffelfinger is that he should have never been on this list.

"And I stand tall to tell the people of my state that this is a man of integrity and I respect him very much."