Friday, February 29, 2008
So, is contempt of Congress a real crime or not? This apparently will be up to the federal courts to decide now that Attorney General Michael Mukasey has refused Congress' request to bring citations against one present and one former top White House official. Mukasey said Friday that he would not prosecute former White House counsel Harriet Miers and current Chief of Staff Josh Bolten for refusing to cooperate with Congress' investigation into the firing of nine U.S. Attorneys in 2006. "The Department has determined that the non-compliance by Mr. Bolten and Ms. Miers with the Judiciary Committee subpoenas did not constitute a crime, and therefore the Department will not bring the congressional contempt citations before a grand jury or take any other action to prosecute Mr. Bolten or Ms. Miers," Mukasey said in a letter to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, according to the Reuters international news service. Mukasey said President Bush had directed the two aides not to respond to the subpoenas, which was legal. Pelosi said Thursday she intended to go to court to enforce subpoenas issued by the House of Representatives last year — to Miers for testimony about the firings and to Bolten for failing to provide documents requested by the Judiciary Committee. But it's not clear what is in question here — why can't the House subpoena federal employees to give evidence in an investigation? How can this issue not yet be resolved after more than 200 years of federal law? If the issue goes all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, what will the justices who elected Bush do?