Thursday, June 14, 2007

Subpoenas Issued To Former WH Officials

Congress issued subpoenas ... for former presidential counsel Harriet Miers and political director Sara Taylor, reaching directly inside the White House for the first time in the probe of the firings of federal prosecutors.

The Bush administration appeared in no hurry to encourage the pair to testify, as the subpoenas demanded. Complying could set a precedent for testimony by another adviser not yet on the subpoena list: presidential counselor Karl Rove.

The Democratic chairmen of House and Senate committees implicitly threatened a constitutional showdown if the White House does not comply with the subpoenas -- or strike a deal.

"The bread crumbs in this investigation have always led to 1600 Pennsylvania," said House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, D-Mich. "This investigation will not end until the White House complies with the demands of this subpoena in a timely and reasonable manner so that we may get to the bottom of this."

"The White House cannot have it both ways -- it cannot stonewall congressional investigations by refusing to provide documents and witnesses while claiming nothing improper occurred," added Senate Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.

White House officials pointed out that White House Counsel Fred Fielding already has offered a compromise by suggesting that Miers, Taylor, Rove and their deputies be interviewed by committee aides in closed-door sessions, without transcripts (and not under oath -- ed.note). Leahy and Conyers have rejected that offer.

"The committees can easily obtain the facts they want without a confrontation by simply accepting our offer for documents and interviews," White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said Wednesday. "But it's clear that Senator Leahy and Representative Conyers are more interested in drama than facts."

No, the real equation is like this: the committees are actually more interested in facts than lies.

The judiciary panels, acting two days after Republicans blocked an effort to hold a no-confidence vote on Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, also sought White House documents about its involvement in the dismissals and efforts to respond to Congressional inquiries into whether as many as nine United States attorneys were removed for political reasons. ...

Congressional investigators have largely completed their interviews of Justice Department officials and assembled thousands of pages of departmental documents. Yet they still cannot definitively answer such basic questions as who initiated the effort to oust the nine prosecutors, how the nine were selected and whether their dismissals were motivated by a desire to push a political agenda, like accelerating investigations of Democrats or protecting Republican elected officials from scrutiny, as some members of Congress have asserted.

The inquiry has at least made clear that Ms. Miers and Ms. Taylor, among others at the White House, helped orchestrate the effort, despite an early statement by the Bush administration denying such a role.

National Journal has posted a copy of Miers' subpoena (5 page pdf).

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