View Full Version : Former White House Aides May Still Be Required To Appear Before Congress

07-09-2007, 06:10 PM

Former White House Aides My Still Be Required To Appear Before Congress

From NBC's Mike Viqueira

Democrats involved with the two Hill investigations into the firing of the federal prosecutors are insisting that former White House aides Sara Taylor and Harriet Miers show up as requested this week at hearings -- regardless of today's claim of executive privilege. Their arguments can be summarized like this:

The subpoena requires two things: 1) to show up and 2) to testify. Invoking privilege does not excuse a subpoenaed witness from appearing. The House Judiciary is telling Miers to show up no matter what, and they are proceeding as if she will. She is due before House Judiciary Committee on Thursday. Taylor was summoned to appear Wednesday before the Senate committee.
Privilege would be properly invoked when the witness was asked specific questions during testimony.
The White House is motivated by a desire avoid a picture of Taylor and Miers before the committee, being sworn in and invoking privilege.
The documents requested do not fit into a claim of executive privilege, which pertain to the president's decision-making process. "However, numerous witnesses before both House and Senate Committees have testified that the President did not decide which U.S. Attorneys should be fired," the Senate committee asserts.

07-09-2007, 06:22 PM
It will be interesting to see if they show up. I imagine "privilege" would be invoked like the 5th. "I plead the 5th."

07-09-2007, 06:37 PM

(Beltman713: This could get very interesting.)

Taylor Will Appear before Senate Judiciary Committee

We just got off the phone with Tracy Schmaler, a spokesperson for the Senate Judiciary Committee's Democratic majority. Schmaler told us it is her understanding that -- despite President Bush's invocation of executive privilege in regards to the testimony of former White House staffers Sara Taylor and Harriet Miers about the ongoing U.S. Attorneys scandal -- Taylor will still appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.

Schmaler says she learned that from Taylor's lawyer, W. Neil Eggleston, earlier Monday afternoon. When called for confirmation by Salon, Eggleston was unavailable. He has not yet returned a message left seeking comment.

As for Miers, the question of whether she will appear as scheduled before the House Judiciary Committee Thursday is apparently still up in the air. A spokesperson for the committee told Salon that the committee had not yet heard anything definitive about whether Miers would appear, and her lawyer was unavailable for comment.

07-09-2007, 06:42 PM
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! Too funny. I wonder if she's going against his wishes, or if she's going to invoke "executive privilege" during her testimony.

07-09-2007, 06:46 PM
Makes one wonder.

07-09-2007, 06:49 PM
Well, if she blows the whistle on something, then she's a whistleblower, and then I have to respect her.

07-09-2007, 06:50 PM
She's problably gonna cry after that testimony like Monica Goodling.

07-11-2007, 06:54 PM
Former Bush Adviser to Say No to Senate


Jul 11, 6:16 AM (ET)

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Bush's former political director says she intends to follow his directive and not answer questions about her role in the administration's firing of federal prosecutors - unless a court directs her to defy her former boss.

"While I may be unable to answer certain questions today, I will answer those questions if the courts rule that this committee's need for the information outweighs the president's assertion of executive privilege," Sara M. Taylor, who left her White House job two months ago, said in remarks prepared for presentation to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.

"Thank you for your understanding," she added in the statement, made available in advance of the midmorning hearing.

Democrats insist that there are plenty about the firings that Taylor can discuss - and is compelled to reveal under a subpoena - that are not covered by Bush's executive privilege claim.

Her lawyer was expected to advise her as the hearing progressed on which questions she could or could not answer under the president's directive.

The same goes for a second former Bush aide, one-time White House counsel Harriet Miers, Democrats say. Miers, subpoenaed to appear before the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday, said through her lawyer this week that she "cannot provide the documents and testimony that the committee seeks."

"Ms. Miers is thus subject to conflicting commands, with Congress demanding the production of information that the counsel to the president has informed her she is prohibited from disclosing," Miers' lawyer, George Manning, wrote to House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers of Michigan and ranking Republican Lamar Smith of Texas.

The two former aides are now private citizens, and some congressional officials have argued that it is not clear Bush's executive privilege claim covers them even though White House Counsel Fred Fielding told lawyers for Miers and Taylor that the president was directing them not to answer questions or provide any information about the firings.

"Ms. Miers has no choice other than to comply with the direction given her by counsel to the president in his letters," Manning wrote.

Taylor's message was much the same. "I intend to follow the president's instruction," she said in her statement.

A court fight could take years, dragging on even after Bush leaves office.

So opens the latest round in the dispute over the administration's firing last winter of eight federal prosecutors. The congressional probe, now in its seventh month, has morphed into a broader standoff over what information the president may keep private and what details Congress is entitled to receive as part of its oversight of the executive branch.

The Taylor and Miers appearances this week are as much about Congress pushing back against Bush's executive privilege claim on subpoenaed documents and testimony as they are about the firings.

Claims for executive privilege are based upon the separation of powers set forth in the Constitution. As a separate but equal branch of government, it is argued, the executive can resist efforts by the legislative and judicial branches to encroach on its authority. Presidents have argued against releasing some documents to Congress and against forcing administration officials to testify about private discussions, contending that such disclosures could damage the executive branch's ability to function independently.

Most presidents have also added a practical argument: They say they won't be able to get unvarnished advice from advisers who worry that their words will be made public later.

Also looming over the proceedings is the fate of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. Democrats have widely called for his resignation and a few Republicans have joined them. But Bush remains supportive of his longtime friend, and Gonzales shows no signs of stepping down.

Taylor and Miers were among Bush's closest aides during the period the firings were planned. E-mails released by the Justice Department up to, including and in the aftermath of the firings show Taylor and Miers were participants in the exchanges. At one point, the White House has said, Miers proposed firing all 93 of the nation's prosecutors, but Gonzales rejected that suggestion.

Democrats want to know if the prosecutors were fired at the White House's direction, perhaps to make room for Bush loyalists. Bush and Gonzales have denied that there were improper political motives behind the firings. The White House has pointed out that federal prosecutors are political appointees, and the president can hire and fire them for almost any reason.

07-12-2007, 12:23 PM
Bush Refuses to Explain Libby Order


The Associated Press
Wednesday, July 11, 2007; 8:02 PM

WASHINGTON -- President Bush refused to explain to Congress on Wednesday why he commuted the prison sentence of former White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby. The husband of the CIA agent outed in the case testified during a House hearing that the clemency grant had cast a pall of suspicion over the presidency.

In a letter to House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, D-Mich., Bush counsel Fred Fielding said Congress had no authority to review a presidential clemency decision.

"To allow such an inquiry would chill the complete and candid advice that President Bush, and future presidents, must be able to rely upon in discharging their constitutional responsibilities," he wrote.

The letter came in the middle of a politically charged hearing by the Judiciary panel on Bush's move last week to erase Libby's 2 1/2-year prison sentence. Libby, a former top aide to Vice President Dick Cheney, was convicted of obstructing justice in a federal probe of the leak of former CIA agent Valerie Plame Wilson's identity.

When he issued the commutation July 2, Bush said in a statement that he respected the jury's verdict but thought the prison term was too harsh.

The hearing's star witness was her husband Joseph C. Wilson IV, a former diplomat whose 2003 newspaper column challenging Bush's case for the Iraq war precipitated Plame's unmasking and the resulting investigation that ensnared Libby.

"In commuting Mr. Libby's sentence, the president has removed any incentive for Mr. Libby to cooperate with the prosecutor. The obstruction of justice is ongoing, and now the president has emerged as its greatest protector," Wilson testified.

Wilson said Bush "at the very least owes the American people a full and honest explanation of his actions and those of other senior administration officials in this matter, including but not limited to the vice president."

Conyers said he recognized Bush's constitutional right to grant clemency, but he argued that using the power to benefit a former aide who was in a position to incriminate other administration officials was suspect.

Even President Clinton's pardon of fugitive financier Marc Rich "did not involve someone who worked in the White House and could potentially implicate others there, as may be or appears to be the case in this instance," Conyers said.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., compared the commutation to the pardons issued by President George H.W. Bush in the Iran-Contra affair, arguing that both excused actions that "frustrated a legitimate investigation, and the pardons guaranteed ... that that investigation could go no further."

Republicans angrily derided the hearing as a partisan stunt that could accomplish nothing, since the president has inherent constitutional authority to pardon or grant clemency to whomever he wishes.

"What's going on here today is more braying at the moon by my friends on the other side of the aisle, who spend more time looking into real or imagined misconduct on the part of the Bush administration, rather than doing the job that we were elected to do," said Sen. F. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis.

Rep. Dan Lungren, R-Calif., said Democrats were right that Bush might have handled the matter differently, but added: "The big difference is, he's the president and you're not, and he made the judgment to exercise his constitutional authority the way he did."

At one point the hearing degenerated into name-calling, as Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., accused Plame of lying to the Judiciary Committee during testimony in March when she said she had not tapped her husband to travel to Niger for the fact-finding mission that led to his op-ed questioning Bush's Iraq war claims.

"This is yet a further smear of my wife's good name and my good name," Wilson loudly protested later, as Issa objected repeatedly and Conyers fought to gain control of the hearing.

07-12-2007, 06:17 PM

Bush committed a felony

07.11.07 -- 5:15PMBy Josh Marshall
Hmmm. A very knowledgeable emailer says it's a felony ...

Invoking a privilege is one thing, but telling a person not to show up in response to a subpoena -- if only to actually invoke the privilege -- is quite another. It's not just worse, it's a felony under federal criminal law.

See for yourself.

18 U.S.C. Sec. 1505 : ... Whoever corruptly ... influences, obstructs, or impedes ... the due and proper exercise of the power of inquiry under which any inquiry or investigation is being had by either House, or any committee of either House or any joint committee of the Congress ... shall be fined under this title, or imprisoned not more than 5 years ... or both.

18 U.S.C. Sec. 1515(b): As used in section 1505, the term "corruptly" means acting with an improper purpose, personally or by influencing another, including ... withholding, or concealing ... information.