Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) has put a criminal contempt vote on the schedule for Thursday in a move that could ultimately call for the prosecution of White House Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten, former White House political director Sara M. Taylor, former White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove and White House Deputy Political Director J. Scott Jennings in their failure to appear or turn over material on the U.S. attorney firings.
The Administration has again assumed the most extreme interpretation of executive privilege in refusing these appearances and documents. The Committee clearly has oversight responsibilities in this area and thus a right to much of the information.
It could put the new Attorney General to the test. The Justice Department and specifically the D.C. U.S. Attorney, serves as the lawyer for Congress in such matters. However, an obvious conflict exists with an Administration both prosecuting and protecting itself. The matter would still have to go to the full Senate, however, and still a way off from a formal referral for prosecution. More importantly, any prosecution would out last this Administration, which is likely to play out the clock. Thus, it is the calendar not the Constitution that is likely to be their greatest ally.
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