08.14.08

Leahy Rebukes White House For Continued Failure To Comply With Congressional Subpoenas

In a letter sent Thursday to the White House, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) Thursday rebuffed the administration’s efforts to stonewall congressional investigators.

Responding to an August 7 letter from White House Counsel Fred Fielding, Leahy rejected the administration’s efforts to “run out the clock” on subpoenas issued by the Senate and House Judiciary Committees to current and former White House officials, including Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten and former White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove.  The House of Representatives has filed a case against Bolten and former White House Counsel Harriet Miers in federal court, and in a July 31 ruling, U.S. District Court Judge John Bates rejected President Bush’s claim that senior White House officials are not required to comply with congressional subpoenas.  Leahy immediately sent letters to Fielding and Robert Luskin, Rove’s attorney, to schedule dates for Bolten and Rove to appear before the Committee.

On August 7, Bolten and Miers requested that Judge Bates stay the ruling until the case is appealed.  In a letter sent to Leahy the same day, Fielding stated that the White House would await the outcome of the appeal before “entertaining any requests” for compliance with the Congressional subpoenas. 

“Your continued reliance on unprecedented ‘immunity’ claims places the administration starkly at odds with Congress, the federal court, and the rule of law,” Leahy wrote to Fielding Thursday. 

The Senate Judiciary Committee last year issued subpoenas to both Rove and Bolten in connection with their involvement with the politicization of the Department of Justice, and the hiring and firing of U.S. Attorneys.  Both failed to provide testimony to the Committee, citing executive privilege and immunity from congressional subpoenas.  Following Leahy’s Novemberruling that those claims were unfounded, a bipartisan group of Committee members voted to report contempt citations for Rove and Bolten in December.  The White House has rejected the Judiciary Committee’s efforts to reach an accommodation for testimony from Rove and Bolten, instead insisting only on off-the-record interviews behind closed doors, and without transcripts.

“Despite the conclusion of your August 7 letter, which stated that you ‘remain available’ to explore ‘ways to reach an accommodation,’ you have made no proposals and taken no steps toward compliance with the Senate Judiciary Committee’s subpoenas or with the court’s order,” Leahy wrote.  “Such hollow words are no substitute for action, especially given this administration’s unwillingness to engage in good faith accommodations in the past, the interposed months of delay, and your legal position having been repudiated by the court.”

The full text of Leahy’s letter follows.  A PDF is also available online.


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