Thursday, July 12, 2007

Miers in the Middle

Former Counsel to the President Harriet Miers did not appear before a House Judiciary Subcommittee to discuss her role in the firing of nine U.S. Attorneys, thereby risking a contempt of Congress as part of the confrontation with the White House over the assertion of Executive Privilege.  In a letter to Committee Chairman John Conyers and Subcommittee Chairwoman Linda Sánchez on July 10, Miers' attorney said that pursuant to the direction of President Bush, she would not even appear before the Subcommittee.  In response, Conyers and Sánchez wrote back that, while a witness may assert a privilege to refuse to answer questions, the subpoena recipient still must appear before the Subcommittee, even to refuse to testify. (see press release here).  Former White House political director Sara Taylor did appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee and answered some questions, although she asserted Executive Privilege in response to others and may well face the same contempt citation.  According to an AP story (here), the House Judiciary Subcommittee voted 7-5 to sustain Sánchez's ruling that the claim of Executive Privilege permits the witness to refuse to appear was out of order, a prelude to beginning contempt proceedings.  The contest between the White House and Congress will only escalate from here. (ph)

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