Thursday, April 10, 2008
Fun in the Oval Office
The wheels of government may turn slowly, but they keep turning. In court papers filed today, attorneys for the House Judiciary Committee argued that the Bush administration's refusal to permit presidential advisers to testify before Congress last year about the firings of nine U.S. Attorneys was the largest expansion of executive privilege since Watergate. Doesn't the U.S. Attorneys thing seem like such a long time ago? Well, it wasn't. "Not since the days of Watergate have the Congress and the federal courts been confronted with such an expansive view of executive privilege as the one asserted by the current presidential administration and the individual defendants in this case," the court papers say, according to the Associated Press. The lawsuit was filed by the committee in March after Attorney General Michael Mukasey refused to bring contempt of Congress charges against Bush's chief of staff, Josh Bolten, and former White House counsel Harriet Miers for refusing to testify about whether the firings of the U.S. Attorneys were politically motivated. The White House contends that information is private and falls under the executive privilege doctrine, which allows the president to keep some communications private. The White House said Bush was not personally involved in deciding which U.S. prosecutors to fire, that communications on the matter were off-limits, and that Miers and Bolten were immune from prosecution because their refusal to comply with the subpoenas was at the administration's direction. The fun is sure to continue May 9 when the administration is scheduled to respond to the committee's filing.