Delay and Conquer: White House Succeeds in Running Out the Clock on Meirs and Bolten Subpoenas

The White House has long been obvious in its effort to run out the clock on the constitutional challenge to the subpoenas for former White House Counsel Harriet Miers and White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten. As a court found, the White House arguments are meritless, but the Administration has been relying on the calendar more than the Constitution. This week, that strategy succeeded with an appellate court issuing a stay that guarantees that the subpoenas will expire with this Congress.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia granted the White House a stay after concluding that the matter will not be resolved before the end of this Congress: “Even if expedited, this controversy will not be fully and finally resolved by the judicial branch … before the 110th Congress ends on January 3, 2009. . . At that time, the 110th House of Representatives will cease to exist as a legal entity, and the subpoenas it has issued will expire. In view of the above considerations, we see no reason to set the appeal. If the case becomes moot, we would be wasting the time of the court and the parties.”

Just last week, the Department of Justice’s Inspector General and Office of Professional Responsibility issued a 356-page report on the U.S. Attorney firings that “found significant evidence that political partisan considerations were an important factor in the removal of several of the U.S. Attorneys.” However, the Congress has been stymied by an obstructionist position of Attorney General Michael Mukasey. The Democratic leadership was unwilling to use the full powers available to it to force the question, including the possible use of inherent contempt authority. As a result, this was a pre-ordained conclusion. Once again, the entire exercise seems designed for public consumption to give the appearance of aggressive pursuit of these officials.

The next Congress can renew this effort. However, it is widely expected that it is not likely to continue with the new Administration.

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23 thoughts on “Delay and Conquer: White House Succeeds in Running Out the Clock on Meirs and Bolten Subpoenas”

  1. Hey, Obama actually won a debate tonight. I mean this time he really, visibly won.

    Obama came out of his shell a little.

    If he does it a little more, he’s got this thing won.

  2. raff, Patty, Jill,

    Criminal prosecution of the Bush Administration and possibly the entire GOP leadership will be REQUIRED to fix America. “Liberty and justice for all” is not just an ad blurb. That ALL is really important. If Cheney and Bush are not prosecuted and prosecuted successfully, the US will remain a joke abroad and further deciline into fascism. Prosecution or not, there will be a price to be paid. People know evil when they see it unless they’ve drank the GOP kool-aid. I favor prosecution but there is a hard reality behind this. Prosecution involves a lot less bloodshed and violence than the alternative. An Obama victory brings the promise of justice. A McCain victory brings the very real possibility of civil unrest and/or civil war. People are ANGRY. It’s not going to just fade away without judicial remedy in the form of penalties and incarceration as a palliative.

  3. PattyC,
    I agree that we need to keep the pressure on the Obama administration to fully investigatge and charge any and all criminals from the Bush Administration, including Bush and Cheney. Whether it is for ordering illegal torture or spying on Americans without a warrant, to name just a couple, these crimes must not go unpunished.

  4. rcampbell 1, October 7, 2008 at 12:09 pm

    LEO

    “I don’t know what other actions are or would be possible, advisable or prudent in the long term, but I’m pretty sure that if the President is under indictment (i.e. impeached) he cannot issue pardons. Ceratinly this is an appropriate site to ask such a Constitutional question.”

    ****
    This has been suggested previously here, RC, but never answered as far as I know. JT?

    We have to continue to insist something substantive be done now to protect our interests. It’s too important. The next (Obama) administration is going to have its hands full in addition to learning ‘the culture’ and unless we stay on message I fear this will fall through the cracks not only initially, but entirely. That must not happen.

  5. from Wapo wp-dyn/content/article/2008/10/06/AR2008100602521.html?hpid=moreheadlines

    “…White House spokesman Tony Fratto said the administration was pleased that the court had recognized that “there are serious questions regarding the separation of powers between the branches.”

    Darn tootin’! (Laurel & Hardy)

  6. Publius,
    You may be right about the renewal of the subpoenas. I hope they are renewed. Jill, I would like to echo your feelings of frustration and disgust over the Bush/Cheney regime and Sen. McCain who wants the job so much that he has sold his soul to the religous right and to Karl Rove. I am especially disgusted with the Torture that was approved and authorized at the very top and continues to this day. Jill, the immense request of information requested by Cheney’s VP vetting group is especially amazing in how detailed and private it was. Especially in light of how secretive Count Cheney has been.

  7. JT: “The next Congress can renew this effort. However, it is widely expected that it is not likely to continue with the new Administration.”

    I think that House Judiciary will renew the subpoenas at the outset of the next Congress and pursue them vigorously.

    Let’s see what happens.

  8. Former Federal LEO:

    Sorry about the verbiage. The term “dictates of the law” just refers to the current state of the law. The Latin phrase,as you know, is a legal maxim holding that when the reason for the law disappears so does the law.

    On your passion for etymology, I think you are in good company. Plato, Socrates, Plutarch, and Nietzsche likewise shared your affinity.

  9. Jill,

    I share your frustration illustrated in your posts. That is what brought me to this forum; in search of some legal sense or explanation regarding the absence of the rule of law regarding Bush et al.

  10. I don’t know if this results from a massive attack of cowardice on the part of the courts and Congress, really awful alliances of the elites with each other, blackmail or some unholy combination thereof, but I will include this info on VP “vetting process” by dick cheney described in Bart Gellman’s book, Angler: “Addington and Liz Cheney wrote an exhaustive questionnaire…another distinguishing feature of Cheney’s review was its expansion of the usual scope of inquiry….{He} asked about …intimate details of parents, children, silblings, spouses, and in-laws…{was there}any proclivity that might leave him ‘vunlnerable to blackmail or coercion’.”…

    They were further asked to request, on Cheney’s behalf, the contents of their FBI files. One of the forms…{was} a blanket waiver of ‘any liability with regard to seeking, furnishing or use of’ the confidential information. No expiration date was specified.” (pp9-10)

    I believe this is 1. a hell of a lot of information on a hell of a lot of people and 2. a real look into dick’s mind and what he’s willing to do for his own ends.

  11. Mespo,

    Thanks for the Latin phrase:

    “Cessante ratione legis cessat, et ipsa lex”

    I do not understand the “dictates of the law”; however, I have a love for Latin from by biological background.

    The “ethics and aesthetics of orthography” and the etymology of our languages have always intrigued me.

  12. I have often wondered about this concept of the revolving Congress. What should a corporate body like the Congress not enjoy everlasting life like most other corporate bodies. Certainly the membership changes as does every other entity, as do the shareholders, officers, and board, but the rights of the corporation live on. Imagine IBM being absolved from its contractual obligations after each annual meeting, or Exxon being unable to collect its accounts receivables after its mass meeting and elections. I understand the dictates of the law here just not the reason for this vestige from our past. Cessante ratione legis cessat, et ipsa lex?

  13. FFL,

    Thanks for your interesting quote. bush is a kind of person with a low, cunning intelligence, but he knows everything he needs to know about how to successfully violate the law with impunity.

  14. Why would Alexander Hamilton insist on the King-like powers of pardon?

    Hamilton was one verbose fellow! He states (in the Federalist 74 (?)):

    “The criminal code of every country partakes so much of necessary severity, that without an easy access to exceptions in favor of unfortunate guilt, justice would wear a countenance too sanguinary and cruel. As the sense of responsibility is always strongest, in proportion as it is undivided, it may be inferred that a single man would be most ready to attend to the force of those motives which might plead for a mitigation of the rigor of the law, and least apt to yield to considerations which were calculated to shelter a fit object of its vengeance. The reflection that the fate of a fellow-creature depended on his sole fiat, would naturally inspire scrupulousness and caution; the dread of being accused of weakness or connivance, would beget equal circumspection, though of a different kind.”

    One biased man, such as Bush, should not have the power to overrule the courts and the years and money spent during legitimate jurisprudence.

    We all know Bush is a fool and he knows nothing about procedural law.

  15. I don’t understand why people buy the “freedom agenda” of:
    1. a surveillance state
    2. torture
    3. indefinite detention
    4. unlimited executive power

    How are any of these things freedom? Many of the people who believe most fervently in the above call themselves christian. Rafflaw always asks this, which of these would Jesus engage in? How are these completely antithetical ideas of complete church/state power over the population made into “freedom”. Worship and complicity (courts and Congress) in raising up an all powerful executive branch removes freedom from our nation. Someone please explain this to me, because truly, I don’t get it.

  16. LEO

    I don’t know what other actions are or would be possible, advisable or prudent in the long term, but I’m pretty sure that if the President is under indictment (i.e. impeached) he cannot issue pardons. Ceratinly this is an appropriate site to ask such a Constitutional question.

  17. What action, if possible, is required to limit or eliminate the powers of pardon for future presidents?

  18. Well said, Jill. The operative decriptor for these people is indeed–disgusting.

  19. It is clear that cheneybushpalin have found the perfect way to nullify any and all prosecution. Each of them screams about a strong and free America while undercutting the foundation necessary for it. The rule of law is fundamental to a functional society and enshirned in our Constitution. These people are no patriots. They are disgusting. Their handiwork has laid waste to this nation.

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