As expected, Attorney General Michael Mukasey informed House leaders Friday that he will not enforce contempt of Congress citations against former White House counsel Harriet Miers and White House Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten.
In response, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced that the House Judiciary Committee will move to file a civil lawsuit in federal court, as provided for in House legislation passed earlier this month.
“By ordering the U.S. Attorney to take no action in response to congressional subpoenas, the Bush Administration is continuing to politicize law enforcement, which undermines public confidence in our criminal justice system,” Pelosi said in a statement.
House Democrats had sought testimony from both Miers and Bolten in connection to their probe of the firing of nine federal prosecutors in 2006, and the House issued contempt citations against each last July.
Claiming executive privilege protected their conversations with the president, White House counsel Fred Fielding subsequently offered to allow the aides to be informally interviewed, but not under oath and without a transcript. Democrats refused that offer and say that negotiations with Fielding have gone nowhere since then.
The civil lawsuit is expected to be filed in coming weeks by the House General Counsel on behalf of the Judiciary panel.
The House attorney is expected to urge a judge to rule on the legitimacy of the Bush administration’s claims of executive privilege and potentially order Miers and Bolten to testify.
— Jennifer Yachnin