Monday, July 9, 2007

Bush ignores Congress Subpoena and declares Executive Order

White House blocks Congress from meeting with former aides in Attorneys investigation

White House Counsel Fred Fielding sent a letter to the House and Senate Judiciary Committees stating that President George W. Bush will refuse to comply with subpoenas for testimony from former White House aides.

The move was criticized by the Congressional committees that continue to press their investigations of the firing of 8 US Attorneys.

Monday morning was the deadline for the White House to explain its refusal to comply with an earlier set of subpoenas for document related to the fired US Attorneys. Fielding also took the opportunity to note that Sara Taylor, a former top aide to Karl Rove, and Harriet Miers, who formerly held Fielding's job, were covered under the president's invocation of executive privilege.

"[A]s we remain at the present impasse, the President feels compelled to assert Executive Privilege with respect to the testimony sought from Sara M. Taylor and Harriet E. Miers covering White House consideration, deliberations, or communications, whether internal or external, relating to the possible dismissal or appointment of United States Attorneys," Fielding wrote to the committees' chairmen, Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT).

Miers and Taylor were scheduled to testify on Wednesday and Thursday respectively.

Rep. Conyers strongly criticized the move.

"While we remain willing to negotiate with the White House, they adhere to their unacceptable all-or-nothing position, and now will not even seek to properly justify their privilege claims," he wrote in a statement released to RAW STORY. "Contrary [to] what the White House may believe, it is the Congress and the Courts that will decide whether an invocation of Executive Privilege is valid, not the White House unilaterally."

Senator Leahy also asked, "What is the White House trying to hide by refusing to turn over evidence it was willing to provide months ago as long as that information was shared in secret with no opportunity for Congress to pursue the matter further?"

He added, "The White House’s refusal to properly justify its basis for this executive privilege claim raises questions about the validity of its assertion."

In the letter, Bush's attorney criticized the Congress members for the "tone and apparent direction in dealing with a situation of this gravity" as found in their earlier letter to the White House of June 29.

"[I]t is incorrect to say that the President's assertion of Executive Privilege was performed without good faith," he argued.

He also rejected Conyers and Leahy's call for a log documenting why the White House refused to turn over the documents in question.

"We are aware of no authority by which a congressional committee may 'direct' the Executive to undertake the task of creating and providing an extensive description of every document covered by an assertion of Executive Privilege," he wrote.

Fielding also repeated the White House's offer for off the record interviews with White House officials. The offer has been roundly rejected by Conyers and Leahy.

Notably absent from both Conyers and Leahy's response was any mention of enforcing the subpoenas, perhaps with criminal contempt citations issued to the White House. Instead, Leahy appeared to be seeking more negotiation.

"I hope the White House stops this stonewalling and accepts my offer to negotiate a workable solution to the Committee’s oversight requests, as so many previous White Houses have done throughout history," he said in his statement.
Access to PDF of Fielding's letter
Article here at Raw Story
hit tracker