Thursday, July 12, 2007
Former White House political director Sara Taylor responded to a subpoena for testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee by answering a few questions posed by the panel but refusing to answer others on the instruction of the President, who invoked Executive Privilege. The hearing is part of the continuing investigation of the firing of nine U.S. Attorneys in 2006, and the role the White House in those decisions. According to Taylor's prepared statement (here) submitted to the Committee:
The current dispute between the Executive and Congressional branches of our government is much bigger than me or my testimony here today. In light of the President's direction, I will answer faithfully those questions that are appropriate for a private citizen to answer while also doing my best to respect the President's directive that his Staff's communications be privileged. To the extent that I am not able to answer questions because of the President's directions, I commit to abide by a judicial determination that may flow from a subpoena enforcement action against the White House. While I may be unable to answer certain questions today, I will answer those questions if the courts rule that this Committee's need for the information outweighs the President's assertion of executive privilege.
While refusing to discuss deliberations at the White House, Taylor did testify that she was not aware of any involvement of President Bush in the decision. She stated:
Taylor: "I did not speak to the President about removing U.S. attorneys."
Sen. Leahy: "Did you attend any meeting with the president since the 2004 election in which the removal and replacement of U.S. attorneys was discussed?"
Taylor: "I did not attend any meetings with the president where that matter was discussed."
According to a Time article (here), Senator Arlen Specter raised the possibility of a contempt citation for Taylor for answering some questions but not others instead of invoking Executive Privilege to any queries. Whether the Judiciary Committee will seek to hold her in contempt is the next step if Congress wishes to challenge the privilege assertion. (ph)