by Mark Silva
Judiciary Chairman: White House gone 'Nixonian'
Thu Aug 2, 2007 12:51

Judiciary Chairman: White House gone 'Nixonian'

by Mark Silva

The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee today accused the Bush administration of engaging in a “Nixonian’’ brand of “stonewalling’’ in its refusal to let Karl Rove, the chief political adviser to the president, testify openly in an investigation of the firing of federal prosecutors.

“Sadly, our efforts to follow the evidence where it leads has led to Nixonian stonewalling,’’ said Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), voicing words that stem from the congressional investigation of Watergate. “The question is, what did the president know and when did he know it?’’

The White House has asserted that the president has the prerogative to hire and fire U.S. attorneys and that nothing wrong was done in the dismissals of several prosecutors last year.

Yet the White House, citing executive privilege, also has refused to let Rove and others openly testify to the Judiciary Committees of the House and Senate, which have subpoenaed Rove and other high-level aides to testify, instead asking that any questioning by members of Congress take place privately, behind closed doors, without any transcript kept or sworn oath.

Rove faced a subpoeana to appear at the Judiciary Commtitee today and did not, His aide, Scott Jennings, did appear, but cordially read a statement that he has been directed by the president not to testify and cannot answer questions about internal or external communications about the dismissals. He is, he said, "between a rock and a hard place.''

“Senator,’’ said Jennings, entering into a repeating refrain, “pursuant to the president’s assertion of executive privilege, I must respectfully decline to answer your questions.’’

“It sounds like the American taxpayers are paying you to stonewall,’’ Leahy said. “Mr. Rove was supposed to be here, and he basically has taken what I consider to be a bogus claim of executive privileges and failed to show up… We will take that up at another meeting.’’

Here is a copy of Jennings' lawyer's letter to the committee: Download file


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