Thursday, June 28, 2007
Not surprisingly, the White House asserted Executive Privilege in response to subpoenas from the Senate Judiciary Committee seeking documents and the testimony of former senior Presidential aides Harriet Miers, who was Counsel to the President, and Sara Taylor, former political director (see earlier post here). The subpoenas were sent as part of the investigation of the firing of nine U.S. Attorneys in 2006. The Committee's next option is to decide whether to seek a contempt order from the court under 2 U.S.C. Sec. 192, which provides:
Every person who having been summoned as a witness by the authority of either House of Congress to give testimony or to produce papers upon any matter under inquiry before either House, or any joint committee established by a joint or concurrent resolution of the two Houses of Congress, or any committee of either House of Congress, willfully makes default, or who, having appeared, refuses to answer any question pertinent to the question under inquiry, shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of not more than $1,000 nor less than $100 and imprisonment in a common jail for not less than one month nor more than twelve months.
While we won't see Miers or Taylor going to jail any time soon -- note that the violation includes a mandatory minimum term in a "common jail" -- it is not clear whether the Senate could pursue enforcement of its subpoena in a civil proceeding. Any judicial resolution of the matter could come after President Bush has left office. The President's position was expected, and is one likely to be repeated in response to the most recent set of subpoenas from the Committee seeking documents on the government's domestic surveillance program (see post below). An AP story (here) discusses the White House response to the subpoenas. (ph)