House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa is giving the White House one more chance to comply with the subpoena of Obama’s top political adviser, David Simas.
The California Republican said the White House is trying to create a new precedent of immunity for presidential advisers already rejected by the courts — although not yet ruled on by the Supreme Court.
“He is not immune,” Issa said in his letter to White House Counsel W. Neil Eggleston.
Issa is proposing Simas testify at 9 a.m. on July 25. More from the letter:
“Mr. Simas’ failure to appear, despite having been compelled to do so by a lawfully issued subpoena, was contumacious, and the Committee is prepared to enforce its subpoena. In light of the White House’s apparent need to further consider the Miers opinion, and in recognition of our mutual interest in resolving this matter in a manner consistent with the guidance contained therein, I am prepared to give Mr. Simas a second chance to appear …. I urge the President to reconsider and to act in a manner consistent with the Constitution and the Court’s ruling in Miers by directing Mr. Simas to appear before the Committee pursuant to the subpoena that remains in effect. If the President has a legitimate concern that Mr. Simas’ responses to specific Committee questions will implicate matters protected by the presidential communications privilege, he may instruct Mr. Simas to assert that or another valid testimonial privilege, in response to specific questions, consistent with the Miers opinion.”
Issa plans to hold a vote on the White House’s claim of immunity from congressional testimony if Simas does not appear.
The dispute could eventually go to the Supreme Court if Republicans decide to try and enforce the subpoena and the administration refuses to comply.
The underlying issue is Issa’s attempt to investigate whether the White House’s new Office of Political Strategy and Oversight is spending tax dollars on politics.
The White House hasn’t yet decided how to respond, but has previously dismissed Issa’s investigation noting he has not yet offered evidence of any wrongdoing.
“We are reviewing the letter and will respond as appropriate,” said White House spokesman Eric Schultz in a statement. “But just three days ago, when White House officials tried to brief the Committee, the Chairman did not show-up. After sending us multiple inquires, the Chairman could not find the time to attend a 75-minute substantive briefing on the very issue that he’s been so concerned about. At this week’s hearing, the Director of the Office of Special Counsel submitted testimony indicating that the Office of Political Strategy and Outreach is operating in a manner consistent with the Hatch Act. Nothing in today’s letter from the Chairman or his previous three have produced any evidence – or even an allegation – to the contrary.”
A legal memo by the Office of Legal Counsel earlier rejected the precedent in Miers.
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