Springtime for Conyers

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The House Democrats are bringing the hammer down:

A House panel on Wednesday approved subpoenas for President Bush's political adviser, Karl Rove and other top White House aides, setting up a constitutional showdown over the firings of eight federal prosecutors.

By voice vote, the House Judiciary subcommittee on commercial and administrative law decided to compel the president's top aides to testify publicly and under oath about their roles in the firings.

All that's needed is for Chairman John Conyers to approve the subpoenas. Feel the suspense!

For his part, Bush remained resolute.

Would he fight Democrats in court to protect his aides against congressional subpoenas?

"Absolutely," Bush declared Tuesday.

Democrats promptly rejected the threat. The Senate Judiciary Committee planned to approve subpoenas for the same officials on Thursday.

In this, the White House is apparently taking advice from Tom DeLay. So, how about that 25th Amendment?

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  1. Finally a problem from which mommy and daddy and Karl can’t extricate him!

    Sure I’m a hater!

  2. Now, why wouldn’t Karl Rove’s word be good enough for them.

    Oh. Right. That whole “the past six years” thing.

  3. IMPEACHMENT!

  4. This should be interesting.

    Bush has signaled his intent to fight the subpoenas, most likely by claiming administrative privilege. Congress can try to force them to appear and hold them in contempt of Congress, but its the DOJ that enforces contempt of Congress issues. Furthermore, absent some kind of crime investigation (which doesn’t seem to be what’s going on here) I don’t see how Congress will be able to compel these guys to testify under oath.

    Granted, I think it’s pretty telling that the WH is saying “sure they can testify, but not under oath or any type of sworn testimony, and there can be no public record/transcript” — they may as well be saying “We reserve the right to lie to lie to you” — but if it gets into a Constitutional pissing contest — I think the WH will win out or at the very least run out the clock.

    From a political perspective, I think this might help the Dems, though. They keep this story in the press and the WH looks more and more like they have something to hide. I think the smart move would have been to make Gonzo the fall guy and cut the story’s legs earlier, but that not they way these guys work.

  5. This is so penny ante in light of things this administration is guilty of. We need a War Crimes Tribunal not just more ‘Congress fuck’n with the President because he’s of the other party and they can’ shit.

  6. It would be nice if we could have several presidents in a row impeached. Maybe after 5 or 6, the presidency’s power would start to be diminished a little. A guy can dream, right?

  7. Baby steps Warren, baby steps.

  8. In Saddam Hussein’s trial, the charges said something about him, “knowing or should have known,” because of his position, about the things his henchmen were doing.
    I’m with you Warren. I am just waiting for enough countries to suggest to the U.N. that war crimes committed by this administration and the armed forces under his command be answered for.

  9. The U.N is the political body which recently cited Israel alone as a systematic abuser of women’s human rights. Anyone who sees the U.N. as a moral or ethical arbiter of anything at all is experiencing a psychotic episode.

  10. “Anyone who sees the U.N. as a moral or ethical arbiter of anything at all is experiencing a psychotic episode”

    This isnt the first,and im confident it wont be my last

  11. Anyone who sees the U.N. as a moral or ethical arbiter of anything at all is experiencing a psychotic episode

    But it’s becoming valid to compare them to Congress.

  12. The Whitehouse is running from truth like vampires from the sun.

    But this is nothing new for them, Bush and Cheney refused to testify under oath to the 9/11 commission.

  13. Bush has signaled his intent to fight the subpoenas, most likely by claiming administrative executive privilege.

    I don’t think he’s actually used the phrase yet. And he may have good reason to avoid it.

    The question is how the decision to fire the USA’s was reached, and the administration has made it clear that the President was not at all involved. So if he wasn’t at all involved, how can he invoke exective priviledge which protects private communication between the president and his staff?

  14. Seriously, if this is what brings the Bush administration down, I think I’ll just curl up on the floor next to the exploded remnants of my head.

    I’m just not prepared for the level of {I don’t even know how to describe this form of fuckedupedness} where Abu Ghraib, Plame, the Slam Dunk, Katrina, and god knows what else goes by unopposed, but sacking six lawyers lands him in hot water.

  15. Davebo, I like where your going with that. I don’t know if it would work and I doubt any Democrat is slick enough to see it that way. I sure would like to see them try it.

    Of course the issue becomes if the President’s staff is covered under executive privilege soley because of their boss. Does it apply to the office of the President or just the President himself?

    I am interested how SCOTUS would rule.

    The President’s position on this is really dishonest. He will allow them to talk as long as they don’t have to tell the truth.

    I read Tony Snow’s comment that it shouldn’t be political and it should be about the truth, yet when it comes to the truth part, they balk.

  16. After all the scandals in the Clinton white house, it was a hummer from a fat chick that brought him down. Eventually a lie is found that can be substantiated to the necessary legal standard.

  17. If the President doesn’t get to invoke attorney-client privilege when talking to White House and Justice Dept. lawyers, on the theory that the public’s right to know outweighs the President’s concerns about secrecy, then why would the balance of interests lean more towards secrecy when invoking executive privilege?

    Is the President’s need for secrecy when discussing political concerns somehow more weighty than when discussing legal concerns?

    Is the public’s right to know about the President’s conversations about the law stronger than our right to know about the President’s conversations about politics?

  18. In my mind, I keep hearing Dems singing snatches of some variation of Zappa’s “The Evil Prince”:

    Who will step forward
    And end all this trouble?
    For beige-blandish citizens,
    Clutching the rubble
    Of vanishing dreams
    Of wimpish amusement,
    Replaced by a rash
    Of ‘CREATIVE’ confusement!

    Soon, my brave Zombies,
    You’ll make your return!
    Broadway will glow!
    Broadway will burn!
    (Along with the remnants of
    EVERYTHING NEW)
    My HOLY DISEASE will do
    Wonders for you!
    Those lovely producers
    Who paid for you ‘then’
    Will do it again, and again, and again!

    The spying potato (the spying potato!)
    With horrible diction (that terrible diction!)
    Will rot in the garbage (I can smell it right now!)
    When this show’s eviction

    And after this deadly review hits the paper,
    In will come ROPER, BENDER & RAPER,
    To legally exercute all that remains
    Of this tragic amusement for drug-addled brains

    Hold on to that g-string
    A little while longer
    For bending it here,
    Why, it couldn’t be wronger!

    http://globalia.net/donlope/fz/lyrics/You_Can't_Do_That_On_Stage_Anymore_Vol_4.html#Prince

    sick, huh?

  19. joe,

    I think in this case context matters.

    Ultimately they want to question Rove/Miers about political decisions. If they were investigating some sort of crime, then I think the public’s right to know would win out. But by all indications they are investigating the politics behind political appointments/appointees, and I think that makes a big difference. The only “crime” so far seems to be that Gonzo lied about the nature of the firings to congress. I believe that there is also a statute out there (can’t remember it off the top of my head) that prohibits the executive from replacing US Atty’s for reasons of preventing the investigations of crimes or to stop them from pursuing justice, but the Dems don’t seem to be making/pursuing that avenue, and it would be a rather hard one to prove in this instance. (Carol Lam would be the only one that comes to mind that would qualify for that statue).

    But I think Davebo’s point (and a number of other liberal blogs have picked up on this as well)is quite right. If the President wasn’t aware of these decisions (and Tony Snow clearly said he wasn’t) the claim of executive privilege should not be valid.

    I know he hasn’t actually said he will use executive privilege, but I don’t see how else he would fight the subpoenas. Unless the DOJ flat out refuses to enforce them.

  20. First – it’s his decision by law. So I personally believe the investigation of this idiotic. If you don’t like the law, change it.

    On a side note – the executive privilege is interesting. If I understand it correctly, it protects communications specifically because if it didn’t, open and honest communications towards an appropriate decision wouldn’t be possible.

    If this is the case (and I’m no lawyer) – it seems to me this would extend to the executive staff for the same reason.

    Again though – this is only a gut thought and I would certainly entertain that I’m incorrect in the reasoning behind EP or the possible outcome.

  21. Chicago Tom,

    The Democrats don’t seem to be looking at Lam’s removal and its relationship to the Cunningham/Pentagon/CIA case? Sure they do.

    Six Sigma,

    Where and how cops walk their beats is the Chief of Police’s decision by law. However, if he tells a certain cop not to walk down an alley because he doesn’t want him to witness and interrupt a crime, that Chief of Police has committed a felony.

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