Tuesday, March 11, 2008

House Files Suit To Enforce Subpoenas


House Panel Sues White House Officials

The House Judiciary Committee sued former White House Counsel Harriet Miers and White House chief of staff Joshua Bolten on Monday, setting up a constitutional clash over the Bush administration's refusal to provide testimony and documents about the firing of U.S. attorneys.

The lawsuit says Miers is not immune from the obligation to testify and that she and Bolten must identify all documents that are being withheld from Congress regarding what Democrats say were politically motivated dismissals of nine U.S. attorneys.

The Gavel:

House Files Suit Against Administration to Enforce Subpoenas

Read the March 10th, 2008 complaint (pdf) here.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi:

The House is taking action today to uphold the rule of law and to protect our Constitutional system of checks and balances. Congress, on behalf of the American people, is clearly entitled to the information that is being sought – it involves the politicization of the Justice Department and law enforcement, not national security information nor communications with the President. The President has no grounds to assert executive privilege.

Judiciary Committee:

Today, the U.S. House of Representatives General Counsel filed a civil lawsuit on behalf of the House Judiciary Committee to enforce subpoenas issued by the committee seeking information on the U.S. Attorney firings. The defendants in the case are former White House Counsel Harriet Miers and White House Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten who were cited by the House for contempt of Congress last month. Last week, the Justice Department refused to present the House-passed contempt citations to a grand jury, contrary to federal law. Based on the House resolution that also found Bolten and Miers in comtempt, the committee is now filing the civil lawsuit to enforce the subpoenas.

"We will not allow the administration to steamroll Congress," Conyers said. "Under our system of checks and balances, Congress provides oversight of the executive branch to make sure that government power is not abused. The administration’s extreme claims to be immune from the oversight process are at odds with our constitutional principles on which this country was founded, and I am confident the federal courts will agree."

Miers and Bolten violated their obligations under committee subpoenas by refusing to appear before the committee or to provide subpoenaed documents. The lawsuit was filed this morning in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia and will be served on Ms. Miers and Mr. Bolton.

Judiciary Committee website: Miers and Bolten Contempt Report and Related Documents

Gavel archives on the US Attorney scandal or contempt.

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