WH refuses Congressional subpoenas -- constitutional showdown?

No, not these subpoenas (it’s so hard to keep track) – an older set, for documents of Harriet Myers and Sara Taylor, regarding the U.S. attorney firings. Today was the deadline for surrendering the documents. The WH refuses to release the documents, claiming executive privilege.

So, what now? The courts? Who will win? Who should?

Drag it out, run out the clock. Go up the chain till you get a sympathetic judge. Remember, said judge doesn’t have to rule against the Constitution, all he need do is divert and delay the process until the timer reaches zero.

Perhaps the legal minds here might shed some light on this question: if the Congress takes the President to court, does it automatically go to the Supreme Court? And if it does, would they settle it quickly?

My money is on the White House. They might just win the court showdown and if not, they’ll manage to delay it enough to make it to 2009. Who should win? Congress, of course.

This may sound naive, but I think the argument that the WH wouldn’t be able to get candid and unfettered advice from their advisers if there was the threat of subpeona, etc, is bunk. People shouldn’t be giving, and the President shouldn’t be entertaining advice of questionable legality, or in the Bush Admin’s case, outright illegal activities (excluding legitimate top secret info, of course).

If it goes to the Supreme Court, the president will win, and democracy will lose.

No, Congress doesn’t take the White House to court. And if it does, the courts are likely to tell Congress that it has its own resources to use in such a situation, and its choices are to use them, or shut up.

Kagro X at DKos gave a quick rundown on the options earlier today:

Option #1 would involve the House or Senate Judiciary Committee citing Miers and Taylor for contempt of court by majority vote, followed by the full House or Senate doing the same. (The House is obviously the better bet; let’s assume the House from here on out.) The House would then refer the matter to the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, and now things get interesting.

According to Wikipedia, the law says it’s the “duty” of the U.S. Attorney to empanel a grand jury to act on the contempt citation, the U.S. Attorney of course reports ultimately to the President. Think the U.S. Attorney for D.C. will empanel a grand jury? Me either. But the House should go through the motions.

Having been stymied in option 1, it can try option #2. I think I’ll just quote Wikipedia (same link) about this:

I hope the House and Senate Democratic leaders have discussed how far they are willing to go to back up their authority. If they are not at some point willing to go the route of either inherent contempt or impeachment, then they are impotent.

Not them, they’re no longer in the administration. The subpoena is directed to their documents, which are no longer under their control.

Good point. I stand corrected.

I love this inherent contempt thing. The House should just start chunking WH officials into the hoosegow until somebody cracks. have the Sergent at Arm arrest 'em, then if they don’t give, have the Sergent at Arms escort them to the slammer. I likes it.

At some point in time, our Pubbie friends will see the wisdom in our arguments against an imperial Presidency, with the power to run rampant over the Legislative branch. On or about Jan. 20, 2009.

I still don’t understand the philosophy at work here.

“Unlimited Power For The President” sure sounds good - if you or your boy will be President for life. If it’s ‘the other guy’, then it’s a philosophy I wouldn’t particularly want a part of.

They really thought they had it sewn up now and forever, didn’t they? Why did they think so?


The Senate should declare them all enemy combatants, tap all thier phones & computers line without a court order, then have them detained and held in prison for several years on a military base without due process or access to a lawyer, convene special courts to try them, pressure the court officials to find them guilty, and then spend years making up excuses about it.

They have precident.

The Nixonification of the Bush White House is now complete. The only means left to prove to this administration that the American government is a cooperative effort is to take them to court. Bush probably thinks his appointees to the Supreme Court will cover his ass. That’s what Nixon thought. He was wrong.

For good measure, it is time to impeach and remove Richard Cheney, on general principle. If I may borrow a metaphor from John Dean, Cheney is a metastasis of the cancer that killed the Nixon Administration.
(I know, I know. The Constitution does not allow impeachment on “general principle”. But a moose can dream, can’t he?)

Dennis Kucinich has ready introduced a bill to impeach Cheney, and found seven cosponsors. See here.

It’s a political manuever. The Democrats in Congress are forcing their Republican colleagues to make a decision. They can either support the Bush Administration and publically implicate themselves in the White House’s legal abuses. Or they can reputiate a presidential administration from their own party. Either way the Democrats come out ahead.

The Republicans will accuse the Democrats of playing “politics” with all the shock and outrage they can manage. Which will be true - and about as meaningful as George Steinbrenner accusing the Red Sox of playing baseball. The Republicans dug this hole for themselves. Six years of ignoring the Constitution have left them open to legitimate accusations that they ignore the Constitution.

Conyers, not surprisingly, says, “This response indicates the reckless disrepect this Administration has for the rule of law.”

No shit, John. Whatchoogondoobowtit?

In order to go to court (and have some expectation of success), the Congress has to be seeking records relevant to an actual criminal investigation. (That was how they got the SCOTUS to rule against Nixon with the Watergate (illegal break-in, criminal act) tapes.)

I don’t recall whether Carter invoked executive privilege, but Reagan, Bush I, and Clinton all successfully invoked it. (It ain’t no Republican tactic.)
I realize that it seems that it is “not fair” or that it is evidence of Bush’s perfidy, but I suspect that most other presidents would behave in a similar fashion, regardless of party or of personal integrity.

Unless someone can find a prosecuting attorney to bring charges that would require the review of the Miers and Taylor papers, I suspect that Bush will successfully resist the subpoenas. Barring genuine evidence of an actual crime, impeachment is not in the cards. (I have begun to wonder whether the Clintoon fiasco was a Republican plot to ensure that no Congress ever raised the spectre of impeachment for any future (Republican) presidents. :stuck_out_tongue: )



Do you seriously believe that eiher Bush or Cheney will be impeached? Seriously?

I’d say it was still improbable, but no longer impossible. All the rocks have not yet been o’erturned, all the crawling vermin beneath still waiting to be discovered. Stohewall…Big Enchilada…“The President is not a dork!”…

We’ll see.

Tom, I don’t believe Congress got the Supreme Court to rule against Nixon, period. That would have been Leon Jaworski, in his capacity as Special Prosecutor. A now-defunct office, alas.