WASHINGTON – A federal judge on Thursday rejected President Bush’s contention that senior White House advisers are immune from subpoenas. Congress is as excited and on a high, something akin to a soaring sugar spike in a kid in a candy store. Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., chairman of the House panel, said let the hearings begin. The sooner the better, because if it comes before the elections Democrats can make political hay.
But they should get off their political high quickly. This ruling will surely be appealed and that could take months. The Hearings would concern the controversy that the Associated Press said “scandalized the Justice Department” and led to the resignation of a longtime presidential confidant, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. It sided with Congress’ alleged power to investigate the executive branch via demanding Presidential assistants come in and tell all. If you call it a scandal it is because the liberals waved their magic wand over the media and said, “Let’s call it a scandal and get those ^^&&***&*** Republicans.”
But the ruling hands a temporary victory to Democrats probing the dismissal of nine federal prosecutors and highlights a power struggle that goes on between the president and Congress no matter who’s the chief executive.
The unprecedented ruling undercut three presidential confidants who have defied congressional subpoenas for information that Bush says is protected by executive privilege. The reason my Democrats want hearings in September is all political–it coincides with the height of election season.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the House could soon vote on a contempt citation against one of the three officials, Karl Rove, formerly Bush’s top adviser.
“It certainly strengthens our hand,” she said of the ruling. “This decision should send a clear signal to the Bush administration that it must cooperate fully with Congress and that former administration officials Harriet Miers and Karl Rove must testify before Congress.”
The administration will likely appeal. They also could seek a stay that would suspend any further congressional proceedings.
“We disagree with the district court’s decision,” White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said. With only a few months left in Bush’s presidency, there appears to be no sense of urgency to make the next move.
“I have not yet talked with anyone at the White House … and don’t expect that this matter will be finally resolved in the very near future,” Rove attorney Robert Luskin said in an e-mail.
The case marked the first time Congress ever has gone to court to demand the testimony of White House aides. These things are usually worked out by compromise, not in the courts. What has become of our government that that Congress is so “sue happy.”
In his ruling, U.S. District Judge John Bates said there’s no legal basis for Bush’s argument that his former legal counsel, Miers, must appear before Congress. If she wants to refuse to testify, he said, she must do so in person. That should be easy. Just go over there and refuse to testify because the matter is in dispute and being appealed. Let you attorney do it. The committee also has sought to force White House chief of staff Joshua Bolten to release documents on any role the White House may have played in the prosecutor firings.
“Harriet Miers is not immune from compelled congressional process; she is legally required to testify pursuant to a duly issued congressional subpoena,” Bates wrote. He said that both Bolten and Miers must give Congress all nonprivileged documents related to the firings.
Unfortunately, Bates was President Bush’s choice to be appointed to the bench. What’s wrong with him. He’s too liberal, by far. And he is verbose. He could have given his opinion in one page. He used 93-page to give his opinion rejecting administration’s legal arguments. No one said he isn’t independent.
He said the executive branch could not point to a single case in which courts held that White House aides were immune from congressional subpoenas.
I’ll bet if I looked long and hard I could find at lest one case. It has to do with Hillary and Bill Clinton and the death of Vince Foster…Hillary was asked to produce the file and Congress and the court gave her a pass when she said simply, “I misplaced or lost it.” Sure, you did!
“That simple yet critical fact bears repeating: The asserted absolute immunity claim here is entirely unsupported by existing case law,” Bates wrote. Not entirely, Judge. Look again and you’ll find you are wrong.
“Unfortunately, today’s victory may be short-lived,” said Rep. Lamar Smith, the ranking Republican on the House Judiciary Committee. “If the administration appeals the ruling, our congressional prerogatives will once again be put at risk.”
Like a greedy vulture, ultra liberal Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., said, “I look forward to working with the White House and the Justice Department to coordinate the long overdue appearances.”
Between now and September, Congress will recess for five weeks of summer vacation. Bates scheduled a conference between the litigants on Aug. 23 to take stock of whether negotiations had moved forward, as he urged in his ruling. Congress then returns to a brief, three-week session before scattering to the campaign trail. All 435 House seats and a third of the Senate are up for grabs, as well as the presidency.
Republicans said there was little reason to rush to an accommodation, noting that subpoenas will expire at the end of the 110th Congress in January.
“I’m sure it will be appealed and it will go on into next year, and it will become a moot issue,” said House GOP Leader John Boehner of Ohio.
Several Democratic officials said they expected the subpoenas to be reissued in January if their party retains control of Congress in the November elections. What are they doing wasting tax payer money on something as stupid as this. It is purely political, and part of the reason I write the Political Disconnect blog. There is a deep disconnect in Washington today, and it has to do with ultra liberals like Messers Pelosi, Reid, Leahy, and Conyers who love it when something like this comes up to turn them away from doing the people’s business. They would rather work on something as innane as this rather than finding solutions to the energy and Social Security problems.
What this battle does is drive the bloody stake of division even deeper, making it harder to do business in a civilized way between party leaders and their minions. Thus, the Political Disconnect connotation. It’s one unholy mess in Washington.