Thursday, November 8, 2007
The House Judiciary Committee moved a step closer to seeking contempt citations for former White House aides Harriet Miers and Joshua Bolten when it filed a Report (here) with the House of Representatives. The two aides had been subpoenaed to testify and produce documents to the Subcommittee on Commercial and Administrative Law related to the firing of eight U.S. Attorneys in 2006. In addition to a claim of Executive Privilege for the documents, the White House asserted the position that neither witness must even appear before the Subcommittee to answer any questions because of the protections afforded by Executive Privilege. The Report identifies three grounds for contempt against Miers -- for not appearing before the Subcommittee, for not testifying, and for not producing documents -- while Bolten is only subject to one contempt citation for refusing to turn over documents. The first Miers contempt citation states:
Resolved, That pursuant to 2 U.S.C. §§ 192 and 194, the Speaker of the House of Representatives shall certify the report of the Committee on the Judiciary, detailing the refusal of former White House Counsel Harriet Miers to appear before the Subcommittee on Commercial and Administrative Law of the Committee on the Judiciary as directed by subpoena, to the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia, to the end that Ms. Miers be proceeded against in the manner and form provided by law . . . .
Even if the House were to vote favorably on the contempt citations, which is certainly not a foregone conclusion, the U.S. Attorney's Office would have to pursue the case. It's not entirely clear whether the likely new Attorney General will allow the case to move forward, and there is at least the possibility that the White House could order that the contempt citation be ignored on the ground that it would interfere with Executive Privilege. Of course, that could end whatever short honeymoon Judge Mukasey might have with Capitol Hill, which has not looked very kindly on the Department of Justice over the past year, i.e. since the 2006 mid-term election changed the leadership in the House and Senate. (ph)