Harriet Miers and Bush Chief of Staff to face contempt charges
Former White House Counsel Harriet Miers and Joshua Bolten, the current Chief of Staff to President George W. Bush, will likely be charged with contempt by the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday this week.
"This investigation, including the reluctant but necessary decision to move forward with contempt, has been a very deliberative process, taking care at each step to respect the Executive Branch’s legitimate prerogatives,” said Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, in a statement. "I've allowed the White House and Ms. Miers every opportunity to cooperate with this investigation, either voluntarily or under subpoena. It is still my hope that they will reconsider this hard-line position, and cooperate with our investigation so that we can get to the bottom of this matter."
Through an attorney, Miers had had earlier stated that she does not fear contempt charges. She refused to comply with a subpoena and appear before the House Committee on July 12 as part of the investigation into the firing of 9 US Attorneys. Bolten also has failed to turn over documents sought by House Democrats. The Bush
chief of staff was ordered to comply with the subpoena by 10 AM this morning.
White House on contempt proceedings: 'Spectacle'
In Monday afternoon's press conference, White House Press Secretary Tony Snow dismissed the contempt charges as "a fishing expedition that's woefully short on fish."
He repeated the White House's offer for off-the-record interviews for officials like Miers on the US Attorneys firings, and suggested that the Justice Department was unlikely to proceed with contempt charges, "if precedent is any guide."
However, he insisted that the White House would not make that judgment for the Justice Department.
"You have to leave that up to the Justice Department, they have to make that determination," he said.
Snow had earlier pointed to quotes from Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, in 1999 and 2000 in which he called the threat of contempt charges against Clinton administration officials a 'spectacle.' Leahy also noted, according to the White House Press Secretary, that there was a Justice Department tradition of refusing to bring contempt charges against White House officials.
After a vote is held in the Committee, the contempt charges must be passed by the full House of Representatives. Speaker Nancy Pelosi suggested on Saturday that she would support contempt charges at the least for Miers.