2 Former Aides to Bush Get Subpoenas
Thursday, June 14, 2007
The decision by two congressional panels to issue subpoenas to the White House yesterday escalates a constitutional showdown over the Justice Department's firing of nine U.S. attorneys that could end up being decided by the federal courts.
The subpoenas from the House and Senate judiciary committees are the first to be served directly on the White House or its staff since the start of the uproar over the prosecutor firings. They signal that Democrats are willing to pursue protracted litigation to determine whether President Bush or his top aides played a significant role in identifying U.S. attorneys to be removed.
The demands target former White House counsel Harriet E. Miers, who first suggested a mass firing of prosecutors after the 2004 elections, and Sara M. Taylor, a former White House political director who figured prominently in efforts to name a former colleague as the U.S. attorney in Little Rock. The two panels also issued subpoenas to the White House for documents related to the prosecutor dismissals.
The White House gave no indication that it intends to comply with the demands. "It's clear that they're trying to create some media drama," said spokesman Tony Snow, referring to Democratic lawmakers.
By targeting two former administration officials, Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) and Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) are hoping that Miers and Taylor might decide to reach accords with the House and Senate committees, regardless of the administration's interests, according to congressional aides.
A similar tactic resulted in damaging public testimony earlier this year from D. Kyle Sampson and Monica M. Goodling, two former senior aides to Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, who were at the center of the prosecutors' dismissals.
Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Democrats are keenly interested in obtaining testimony from presidential adviser Karl Rove but must first question other White House officials. A succession of Justice Department officials have denied responsibility for placing prosecutors' names on the firing lists, which Sampson compiled.
"We still haven't found out who actually concocted this scheme," Schumer said.
Taylor's attorney, W. Neil Eggleston, suggested yesterday that his client is open to cooperating, saying in a statement that Taylor "takes her responsibilities as a citizen very seriously."
"She is hopeful the White House and the Congress are quickly able to work out an appropriate agreement on her cooperation with the Senate's proceedings," Eggleston said.
Miers did not respond to a message left yesterday with her law office in Dallas.
Yesterday's move by the judiciary panels followed an unsuccessful attempt by Senate Democrats on Monday to hold a vote of no confidence in Gonzales. The attorney general has Bush's support and has deflected demands from Democrats and some Republicans that he resign over his management of the Justice Department.