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House Files Lawsuit Over White House Aides Testimony

The House General Counsel filed a civil lawsuit Monday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to enforce contempt citations against former White House counsel Harriet Miers and White House Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten.

Democrats had sought testimony from Miers and Bolten in connection with their probe of the firing of nine federal prosecutors in 2006, but the Bush administration asserted that executive privilege protected conversations between the aides and the president.

White House counsel offered to allow the aides to be informally interviewed but not under oath and without a transcript.

Democratic lawmakers declined that offer, and the House issued contempt citations in July 2007, then voted to enforce those citations last month.

Attorney General Michael Mukasey refused to enforce those citations via criminal federal court earlier this month, prompting the House to pursue the civil lawsuit on behalf of the Judiciary Committee.

“We will not allow the Administration to steamroll Congress,” Judiciary Chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.) said in a statement. “Under our system of checks and balances, Congress provides oversight of the Executive Branch to make sure that government power is not abused. The Administration’s extreme claims to be immune from the oversight process are at odds with our constitutional principles on which this country was founded, and I am confident the federal courts will agree.”

— Jennifer Yachnin

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