11.18.08

Leahy To File Committee Report In U.S. Attorney Firing Scandal Committee Report Will Accompany Rove, Bolten Contempt Citations

released a report to accompany resolutions of contempt approved last year by the Senate Judiciary Committee as part of an investigation into the improper firing of nine U.S. Attorneys.  In December 2007, a bipartisan majority of the Committee voted to report to the Senate contempt citations for former White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove and White House Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten for their failure to provide documents and testimony to the Committee in connection with the investigation into the politicization of the Department of Justice.

Beginning in January 2007, the Senate Judiciary Committee conducted a series of hearings and witness interviews to investigate the politicization of the Department of Justice, and the hiring and firing of U.S. Attorneys for improper political reasons.  The investigation found evidence that the political interests of White House officials played a significant role in the firings.  The Committee authorized Leahy to issue subpoenas to Rove, Bolten, and others after the White House repeatedly rejected efforts to reach an accommodation to provide materials relevant to the Committee’s investigation.  Ultimately, congressional investigations led to the resignations of the senior members of the Department of Justice, including Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, and several high-ranking White House officials.

The House Judiciary Committee conducted a parallel investigation, and filed suit in federal court in an effort to obtain documents and testimony from the White House.  In July, a federal judge rejected the White House’s assertion of absolute immunity and executive privilege, and ordered compliance with subpoenas issued by the House Judiciary Committee to Bolten and former White House Counsel Harriet Miers.  The Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General and Office of Professional Responsibility also investigated the hiring practices at the Justice Department, and have released three reports in recent months corroborating the Committee’s findings, and concluding that the firings were improper and the result of a failure of leadership at the Department.

“The findings of the Senate Judiciary Committee in the course of its investigation into the hiring and firing of U.S. Attorneys have been echoed by the Justice Department’s own internal oversight offices,” Leahy said Tuesday.  “Further, the White House’s unsupported claims of executive privilege and immunity designed to shield the President’s advisors from complying with congressional subpoenas have been rejected by the federal court.  This administration has repeatedly rejected the constitutional oversight role of Congress.  The Bush administration’s days may be numbered, but the next Attorney General and the next Congress have much work to do to restore accountability and independence to the United States Department of Justice.”  

A history of the Committee’s investigation follows.  The complete Committee report, which will be filed Wednesday when the Senate returns to session, is available online through the Senate Judiciary Committee’s website.

  • January 18, 2007 – Senate Judiciary Committee holds Department of Justice oversight hearing with testimony from Attorney General Alberto Gonzales
  • February 6, 2007 – Senate Judiciary Committee holds first hearing to examine the politicization of the Department of Justice
  • March 2007 – Committee members seek cooperation from current and former White House officials (March 7, 2007March 13, 2007March 22, 2007March 27, 2007March 28, 2007)
  • March 15, 2007 – Senate Judiciary Committee authorizes first subpoenas in U.S. Attorney investigation
  • April  2007 – Committee members seek cooperation from current and former White House officials (April 5, 2007April 9, 2007April 11, 2007)
  • May  2007 – Committee members seek cooperation from current and former White House officials (May 16, 2007May 24, 2007)
  • May 2, 2007 – Subpoena issued for lost emails authored by senior political advisor Karl Rove 
  • May 14, 2007 – Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty resigns
  • June 13, 2007 – Subpoena issued for White House Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten
  • June 28, 2007 – White House asserts executive privilege in response to congressional subpoenas  (Leahy comment)
  • July 26, 2007 – Subpoena issued to White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove
  • August 2, 2007 – White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove fails to appear before Senate Judiciary Committee and comply with subpoena
  • August 13, 2007 – White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove resigns
  • August 14, 2007 – Chairman Patrick Leahy urges President Bush to cooperate with investigation
  • August 23, 2007 – Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division Wan Kim resigns
  • August 27, 2007 – Attorney General Alberto Gonzales resigns
  • November 29, 2007 – Chairman Patrick Leahy rules on White House claim of executive privilege
  • December 13, 2007 – Senate Judiciary Committee approves contempt citations for Karl Rove and Joshua Bolten
  • June 24, 2008 – Department of Justice Inspector General and Office of Professional Responsibility issue report, “An Investigation of Allegations of Politicized Hiring in the Department of Justice Honors Program and Summer Law Intern Program” (Leahy comment)
  • July 28, 2008 – Department of Justice Inspector General and Office of Professional Responsibility issue report, “An Investigation of Politicized Hiring by Monica Goodling and Other Staff in the Office of the Attorney General” (Leahy commentInspector General testimony)
  • July 31, 2008 – Federal court rules against immunity for White House officials
  • July 31, 2008 – Chairman Patrick Leahy presses for testimony from Rove and Bolten
  • September 29, 2008 – Department of Justice Inspector General and Office of Professional Responsibility issue report, “An Investigation into the Removal of Nine U.S. Attorneys in 2006” (Leahy comment)
  • November 19, 2008 – Chairman Patrick Leahy will file Committee report to accompany resolutions of contempt for Karl Rove and Joshua Bolten

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