President Bush may prove to be to the law of contempt what President Johnson proved to be to the law of interstate commerce: he could create lasting precedent for the holding of officials in criminal contempt. With calls for contempt and prosecution swirling over the torture of suspects and destruction of CIA tapes, Bush officials have now been formally charged with contempt by Senate and House Judiciary Committees.
The Senate Judiciary Committee vote was interesting because it was not close. By 12-7, the Senators approved citations against Karl Rove, the former top aide to President Bush, and Joshua Bolten, the current White House chief of staff. Sens. Spector and Grassley supported the citations.
In the meantime, the House Judiciary Committee approved citations for Bolten and former White House Counsel Harriet Miers.
The committee subpoenaed Rove and Bolten this summer to testify on the firing of nine U.S. attorneys last year. Bush used an extreme interpretation of executive privilege to deny both their testimony and documents.
This could get interesting since the Justice Department has indicated that it will not allow the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, Jeffrey Taylor, to pursue this case in court. It is rare to have such a refusal, though President Clinton took such an action in 1999.
Under 2 U.S.C. section 192, a criminal contempt citation is referred to the Justice Department for prosecution.
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5 thoughts on “Senate Judiciary Holds Rove, Bolton in Contempt While House Judiciary Does the Same for Bolton and Miers”
After seeing how Bush and Cheney have abused their authority and invoked executive privilege and used pardons and commutations
to obstruct justice for all of their scandals, they must be held accountable.
On the issue of executive privilege, I think a “rocket docket” should be legislated to quickly decide executive privilege claims by an en banc panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. The Bush administration is claiming executive privilege as to anyone in his administration who has spoken to Bush, then they stonewall and obstruct until the clock runs out or their pursuers tire of the chase. This has greatly diminished the public trust in our government. This is no different than when Richard Nixon stated, “When the President does it, it isn’t against the law.” No one is above the law, including the President.
As to this commutation and now probable pardon of Scooter Libby after he gave up his appeal, legilsation should also be passed precluding a President from being able to grant a pardon or commutation to anyone that he has an actual or potential conflict of interest with. Judges are required in many jurisdicitons to recuse themselves when they potentially embrace such a conflict. (I am equally angry at Clinton’s abuse of this with his brother and Marc Rich. The far-right used that as justifying Bush’s action.)
Also, now that Scooter Libby has no appeal, he can’t invoke the 5th Amendment if Congress calls him to testify? What about Fitzgerald? Isn’t he now free to talk?
Dear Mr. Turley I have a question about the election of Vice-President of the United States. Since the passage of the twelth amendment, which separated the nomination process for president and Vice President; how can the political parties nominate a vice presidential candidate from the convention without the candidate placing him/her self on the ballot in the various states, ahead of time? Does the candidate have to file petitions in the various states, during the primary season? Does the VP candidate have to follow the constitutional rules for nomination and why are the candidates not listed separately? The constitution origianlly allowed having a president of one party and a vice president of another. Could I place myself as a VP candidate on the ballots in the 50 states and challenge the party nominating process of those vp candidates selected at the convention? Thank you in advance for your reply.
Meanwhile the two houses are railing at each other! The politics are becoming chaotic!
Usually such tumult presages settling into a new stable pattern of behavior.
We can only hope it is one that will be more protectful of the dignity of the Congress and the Constitution.
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