Executive Privilege and the Fired Attorneys
It has been a year and a half since seven U.S. attorneys around the country were fired on the same day. That action by the Justice Department sparked the Bush administration's most enduring political and legal battle with Democrats in Congress. Evidence continues to accumulate that senior White House and Justice Department aides targeted prosecutors and others in the department for removal based in part on their perceived loyalty to the administration and the GOP.
Today a federal judge dealt the administration a setback in its argument that details about the firings are protected from disclosure by executive privilege and need not be shared with Congress. The ruling said that former White House counsel Harriet E. Miers is legally required to appear before the House Judiciary Committee, The Post's Del Quentin Wilber reports.
The White House had argued that Miers and Chief of Staff Joshua B. Bolten were shielded from appearing or providing documents to the committee by "absolute immunity under the legal doctrine of executive privilege."
Today's ruling follows yesterday's contempt vote against former top White House aide Karl Rove for failing to appear at a July 10 hearing over allegations of undue federal influence over the Justice Department, including whether he encouraged prosecutions against Democrats such as former Alabama governor Don Siegelman, The Associated Press reports. The House Judiciary Committee voted along party lines to cite Rove for contempt of Congress.
The administration's troubles on the U.S. attorney front have been multiplying. Last month, Carrie Johnson of The Post quoted people familiar with the investigation as saying that a grand jury is examining possible discrepancies in testimony last year by former Justice Department civil rights division chief Bradley J. Schlozman, who acknowledged that he bragged about recruiting people who shared his conservative views for his unit.
Today The New York Times' Charlie Savage reported on little-noticed passage of a Justice Department report released Monday about politicization in the department's hiring of civil-service prosecutors and immigration officials: A 2005 e-mail from the White House's political affairs office to agencies throughout the executive branch directing them to find jobs for 108 people on a list of "priority candidates" who had "loyally served the president."
"We simply want to place as many of our Bush loyalists as possible," the White House emphasized in a follow-up message.
By Derek Kravitz |
July 31, 2008; 4:40 PM ET
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