Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Waxman on the Warpath

The Senate and House Judiciary Committees are not the only ones on Capitol Hill hounding the White House and various agencies about soon-to-be former Presidential aide Karl Rove's work in federal agencies.  Representative Henry Waxman, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, sent a letter (here) to eighteen agencies asking for information about “asset deployment” meetings organized by the political office at the White House allegedly to discuss the use of federal resources to promote the election of Republicans in Congress.  The agencies receiving Waxman's letter are the Departments of Justice, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Justice, Treasury, Veterans Affairs, Labor, State, Agriculture, Commerce, Transportation, Environmental Protection Agency,  Small Business Administration, General Services Administration, United States Agency for International Development, and the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

The Department of Justice responded to an earlier Committee request for information about political briefings in a letter (here) sent on June 14 outlining the dates of the meetings and the participants.  The letter shows five such meetings in 2001, two in 2002, and one in 2003, and then the next one is in March 2006.  There were four meetings in August and September 2006, shortly before the mid-term elections, including one on September 5 that may well pique the attention of investigators looking into the firing of nine U.S. Attorneys.  The letter describes the meeting as being for agency chiefs of staff and White House liaisons, and "the briefing would be led by Karl Rove."  It's not clear if former DOJ chief of staff Kyle Sampson and former White House liaison Monica Goodling, both of whom quit during the U.S. Attorney firing probe, attended the meeting, but it looks like they had it on their calendars.  Is this another avenue of inquiry into the politicization of the Department of Justice, and if asked about the meeting, will the White House assert Executive Privilege to shield the discussion? (ph)

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