Wednesday :: Mar 21, 2007

House Committee Votes To Issue Subpoenas

by Steve


A subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee just voted to issue subpoenas for Karl Rove and Harriet Miers as well as other officials. This comes as word seeps out that Hill Republicans already expect that the White House will fight this to the end, and damage themselves doing it, while still seeing Gonzales leave anyway. The White House and Hill Republicans are signaling that a possible deal would be for a transcript of the interviews to be made and used by Congress, on the notion that lying to Congress at all is a crime regardless of whether or not it is under oath. This appears to be the angle desired by both the GOP and the administration for resolving this, and White House counsel Fred Fielding already has a track record of resolving executive privilege clashes in this manner.

The White House thinks that since they won a 2004 Supreme Court battle over the Cheney Energy Task Force on the issue of executive privilege, they can do it again. The difference is that the 2004 battle did not involve congressional committee prerogatives but rather if I remember correctly the interests of the GAO and nongovernmental entities in pursuing such information.

For the White House to win the current battle, the Supreme Court would have to be willing to extend executive privilege beyond what former Chief Justice Warren Burger said was the most defensible: to ”protect military, diplomatic or national security secrets.” In this case, none of those apply, and it further harms the administration’s case that it has selectively already released thousands of documents on the matter, except those from the White House itself.

As the New York Times noted today, Congress has a right and a duty to pursue such testimony under oath, from an administration that has disregarded Congress’s co-equal role in our government repeatedly. The two main reasons why the Bush Administration is threatening to fight this are obvious: the unitary executive principle and a desire to hide something. An administration that has decided to issue signing statements to undercut legislative initiatives has no business refusing subpoenas, nor does the Democratic leadership have any business caving in on this issue.

Steve :: 8:22 AM :: Comments (36) :: Digg It!