July 25th, 2007
12:23 PM ET
4 years ago

House panel recommends contempt for Miers, Bolten

The House Judiciary Committee is recommending contempt charges for White House aides Harriet Miers, above, and Josh Bolten.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - The House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday voted to recommend that Congress issue contempt citations to a former and a current White House official for failing to comply with subpoenas issued in the investigation into the firings of eight U.S. attorneys last year.

The panel voted 22 to 17 on a resolution to cite former Counsel Harriet Miers and Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten. Their decision now goes to the House floor for a vote.

A Democratic leadership aide told CNN the full House is unlikely to take up the issue before its August recess.

"This is not a step that as chairman I take easily or lightly, but it is one I believe necessary - not only to allow us to gain an accurate picture but to protect our constitutional prerogatives as a co-equal branch of government," said committee Chairman John Conyers, D-Mich., at the start of the meeting.

Miers was President Bush's pick for the U.S. Supreme Court, before she removed herself from consideration in October 2005.

The citations were requested in response to Miers and Bosten's failure to comply with subpoenas issued by the committee for documents and testimony, including Miers' refusal to even appear at her scheduled hearing on July 12.

White House Counsel Fred Fielding alerted the committee on June 28 that the White House would not provide the documents as required by the subpoena, asserting President Bush's executive privilege.

"The investigation did not begin with the White House, but has ended up there only after a review of thousands of pages of documents and obtaining the testimony and interviews of 20 current and former Department of Justice employees," Conyers said.

"We have been open at all times to reasonable compromise, and have been fully respectful and cognizant of the prerogatives of the executive branch."


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soundoff (52 Responses)
  1. Sad Dog

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    July 25, 2007 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  2. kathe oakland ca

    TOM and SAM – RIGHT ON to both of you. CNN is showing a bias and Sam yes
    Just wish rest of America would wake up especially these republicans who don't seem to understand or do they? I guess it is alright to drag our country down in the pig pen – that is why they voted for Bush again

    July 25, 2007 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  3. Aaron denver, co

    Conyers is WASTING everyone’s time and the taxpayers money!

    Really. So its a waste of money for Congress to fight for our own democracy here at home while we waste even more money failing to install a so called democracy abroad (Iraq). That makes a lot of sense.

    July 25, 2007 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  4. Jon, Sacramento ~ Ca

    Les ~ Aurora, IL wrote, "Doing the right thing is never a waste of time. Impeachment that can never pass the senater would not be a waste of time. "

    First, Les & Impeach now crowd, you must have concrete evidence this President committed High Crimes and Misdemeanors – not just suspicion or theories. Then you must have articles of Impeachment drawn by the House of Representatives, debated, and voted by the majority.

    With Pelosi saying impeachment is off the table, Reid concluding it won't happen, and without evidence... what are you basing your call for impeachment?? Cause you just don't like the guy??

    I understand many do not like this administrations pressing the legal system (much like the Clinton Administration did) – but pressing the legal system (executive privilege) is not ILLEGAL. Federal Courts, the Supreme Court, or by negotiation – these issues of testimony or not testifying get resolved.

    STAN ~ Houston,

    Inherent Contempt might be a threat to your average citizen. Ms. Miers was a memeber of the President's Cabinet and her conversations are protected by Executive Privilege. This matter (executive privilege being properly applied or not) will go through the courts. No one will not be arrested by Mr Conyers – other than Cindy Sheehan.

    July 25, 2007 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  5. Jon, Sacramento ~ Ca

    Travis writes, "So, if I understand what you’re saying, Jon, it’s that you acknowledge there has been wrongdoing on the part of the executive branch and you acknowledge there will be further wrongdoing because the president will order the US attorney not to prosecute Harriet Miers. Therefore, since those who have been in contempt by refusing to testify will be bailed out because of an truly unethical play by their boss that subverts the independence of the legislative and judicial branches, we should just leave it be?"

    Travis – I never suggested or agreed there WAS any wrongdoing or nothing. None of us know – folks only suspect. Could there be something? Sure. Could it simply be that this President is resisting a democratic congress attempting a broad fishing expedition on every decision they disagree? Perhaps.

    Point is – this President has not broken the law. Many disagree with his decisions, the Iraq War, his approach to coercing terrorists to talk, etc. But none of this warrants calling him a criminal nor is sufficient for impeachment.

    We can yell and shout all day long – for or against the President. It's the courts which will decide legitamacy or illigitamcy of any accusations.

    July 25, 2007 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  6. Jack Jett

    I live in Dallas Texas which is a safe haven for criminals like Miers, Gonzales, and Tom Delay, etc etc etc.

    These Texas bubbas are never going to let Mama Miers go testify in front of these evil Democrats. Jesus wouldn't want that.

    Jack Jett
    http://www.jackejett.com

    July 25, 2007 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  7. IF Colorado

    Jon, judging by your grammar and punctuation, you seem to be educated.

    How does one find concrete evidence making impeachment plausible, when same executive privilege you yield to without scrutiny prevents that very evidence from surfacing? These premises seem to cancel each other out.

    The Democrats are far from infallible, and are likely not going to do much since they are already posturing for the 2008 elections. But it seems many of us, perhaps the majority, are dreaming of a government of the people.

    July 25, 2007 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  8. S. Jennings, Hewitt, NJ

    Congressional Liberal Democrats should read the Constitution. The EXTREME LEFT Lib leadership constantly tries to usurp the Constitutional powers of the Presidency.
    Can anyone tell me what the Democratic leadership has accomplished? Have they helped our servicemen ? How ? By telling the enemy that we've lost !By telling them when we're going to leave ? NO ONE WANTS WAR ! BUT WHAT IS THERE PLAN TO PROTECT THE SECURITY AND INTERESTS OF THE USA? Oh, I forgot. Give constutional rights to terrorists who wnat to kill us and vote against the Patriot Act. Yeah, that's the plan.
    What is there plan for the prosperity of the country ? What can or will they do that will make it better for HARD WORKING CITIZENS ? Oh, I forgot. Get rid of the tax cuts ! Raise my taxes, give free services to illegal immigrants, and turn our country into a Socialist state. Yeah , that's the plan !

    If I'm not making sense, then maybe they will understand me.

    God help us ! Oh, I forgot. Better not say that either.

    July 25, 2007 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  9. Jon, Sacramento ~ Ca

    IF ~ Colorado writes, "How does one find concrete evidence making impeachment plausible, when same executive privilege you yield to without scrutiny prevents that very evidence from surfacing? These premises seem to cancel each other out."

    You're right – it is possible for a President to abuse Executive Privilege in an attempt to cover up possible wrongdoings. However, because a President invokes EP does not either automatically mean something is being hidden.

    This probe stems from the Bush Administration firing 8 US Attorneys – suggesting the firings were politically motivated and are being investigated. The previous administration (Clinton) fired 93 US Attorneys and claimed, "All those people are routinely replaced" – even though this level of dismissals was unprecedented.

    My point isn't to say "Clinton did it too". Rather to say – if firings are common when new administrations take over... WHY now the intense scrutiny and hearings over these 8?

    This administration taking a defensive posture (and the fact I do believe President Bush is attempting to establish the hard boundaries of Executive Privilege) – seem reasonable, just as Clinton did when Republicans were going after him.

    IF it were determined the firings of these 8 US Attorneys had some political implications – IS that worthy of impeaching this President? No. Removing Albert Gonzales but not impeaching the President.

    The other issue to keep in mind... this is setting a harsh precedent. When the next administration takes office (Presumably Democratic President) – count on hearings, subpoenas, and spending our tax dollars again!

    July 25, 2007 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  10. David, Gilbert Arizona

    If the world nations weren't laughing at us before they sure are now.

    July 25, 2007 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  11. Mike, Corpus Christi Texas

    So the repubs hate the Congressional Oversite Committee's, well that's just too bad isn't it?! It's about time for Oversite, since it hasn't been seen in the Congress for the last 6 1/2 years. Wonder why the repubs hate to sit in the hot seat?!.........The whole Bush admin. reminds me of the corrupt president in the movie Clear and Present Danger. If you haven't seen it, watch it!!

    July 25, 2007 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  12. MCD, San Francisco

    May not be a waste of time... eventually, the republican reps have to realize that this administration is ruining our country and our way of life. At some point they must act... they have lost a lot of support and power because of bush&co. I would imagine they are going to hear alot about it during the recess while they are back home.

    July 25, 2007 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  13. Allan Hanson 2623 Julie Court Cameron Park, Ca. 95682

    You don't have to be MENSA material to know that the top priority of this Administration would be to "get Saadam".
    Every speach he made refered to the "Axis of evil" that had to be dealt with. His loading his Cabinet with like thinkers made it more likely.
    He had to clear "Daddys" name for not getting Saadam when he drove him out of Kuait.
    It had nothing to do with 9-11, oil,or WMB's. It was all ego.
    Impeachment would not be a waste of time nor would being tried as a war criminal. Both deserved.

    July 25, 2007 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  14. Mike, Corpus Christi Texas

    Oh and for those who keep on bashing the Congress for low approval ratings and getting nothing done, that's a buch of "BUNK." Remember the Dems control the HOUSE, and they just have a 1 seat majority in the Senate. It takes a majority of both Houses of Congress to pass any legislation, unless of course more Repubs vote with the Dems. It's a matter of playing the numbers game. If you blame the Congress for being inept, remember that Republicans are also part of the Congress, though a minority, they can still keep legislation from passing due to their filibustering! And finally, guess WHO HOLDS THE VETO PEN?!

    July 25, 2007 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  15. J. Abbott

    If contempt citations are approved by the House, Speaker Pelosi must NOT refer the matter to the US Attorney for the District of Columbia. Miers, Bolten and any others should be tried in the House itself, for which there is ample precedent. And the rationale: The US Dept of Justice is completetly compromised and inable to carry out its constitutional role in this matter.

    July 25, 2007 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  16. Mrs. America

    When Bush feels more backed into a corner than usual, he ups the terrorist fear factor, which he has certainly been doing lately. Even Nixon didn't stoop so low.

    July 25, 2007 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  17. Ted Thomas Dillon Beach, CA

    I agree with most of the comments on here that state that this is definitely NOT a waste of time. Jon (one of the first comments) has a point, in that this is not going to go very far, but hopefully people will begin to understand that with this administration, combined with the rubber stamp republican congress, there was absolutely no oversight or checks and balances. If the demo's had been in charge of Congress (or the white house) this would never have gone this far. THAT is what has been a waste of time – the Bush Administration's nose-thumbing of the Constitution. It truly turns my stomach to think what this man has done to our great country. Bush should be ashamed of himself, and I am quite certain that history will judge him in kind.

    July 25, 2007 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  18. Eugene Elliott, Orlando, FL

    The garling error is that this should have done for Chaney 5 years ago. He and his lap dog have stonewalled the investigation into the 2001 thieft of 6 Billion $ in the energy scam that the energy companies in Texas committed against the rate payers in California. One thing the next President should do is release all the papers of this VICE President to the light of day, and a Federal Prosecutor. An responsibly run nation would have impeached Chaney 4 years ago and he would be in prison for the next 20, unless he paid back all the money. Then we could start on the contracts allowing the war profiteering of his chronies in Halliburton. .... Katrina?

    July 25, 2007 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  19. Patrick, Overland Park, Kansas

    I am so unbelievably sick of this adminstration and its complete lack of respect for the rule of law. For christ's sake they are just making up laws as they go now! First they say that aides to the President can't testify, so Congress votes to hold them in contempt for not showing up. Then in the most shameful and cowardly of moves the White House has moved to block federal prosecutors from actually enforcing the contempt citations. They are trying to prevent law enforcement from actually enforcing the laws. What the **** is going on America? Think this is still a Democracy, let alone a Republic? Apparently George W. Bush does not think so. To him, he's running a dictatorship where noone who works for him is accountable for their actions, well intentioned or otherwise. Unbelievable.

    July 25, 2007 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  20. MCD, San Francisco

    Another thing... at some point the Courts are going to have to say: enough already, not EVERYTHING can be considered either a "state secret" or "executive privilage". The overuse of these categories has reached such a ridiculous level they no longer hold any credibility.
    .

    July 25, 2007 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  21. Dale G. Los Angeles, Ca.

    S.Jennings
    AMEN to that!!
    The dimwit dems even wanted to protect 'them' by allowing John Doe citizen to be hauled into court by lawyers from the ACLU for CAIR on charges of racial profiling just because they reported suspicious behaviour!
    Keep this up and we'll all be on our knees, butts in the air, faces in the carpet five times a day, praying to the moon god allah.

    Yes I'm angry!! Look at Europe!!

    Conyers is nothing more than a media w–re wanting his face on TV and in the spotlight every day. This is a 'DO NOTHING' congress who should spend my tax dollars legislating and not investigating. Fishing in a fishless pond, what a bunch of losers!

    I thank God every day for President Bush, a man who is a president FOR the people even though he knows what he does to protect us will take him lower in the polls.
    History will prove him to be right.

    July 25, 2007 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  22. Mike, HI

    S. Jennings:

    Claiming the Democrats are destroying the Constitution and then implying that the Patriot Act is legitimate is a little hypocritical, don't you think?

    Jon: I agree that, when it comes to the impeachment discussion, there is nothing solid out there yet to justify it. But I think the contempt charges are justified and we should support however far they lead. Personally, I don't think the power of EP is warranted anyway. Obviously, it doesn't prove guilt, but Congress shouldn't have to suffer EP with every attempt at oversight.

    July 25, 2007 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  23. erika morgan black dimond wa

    The reason Bush/Chaney know they are above the Law, is because we allowed Nixon to be pardoned by Ford. The example from history is that there is no accountability, office holders will never be held to their "Oath of Office" these things are just empty show.

    If we want to be taken seriously by the people of the World and our own Citizens, we must bring every hint of wrong doing by anyone in Government to the full light of day, and extract justice for the individuals who committed the crimes ignoring the office they hold. If we are unable to follow this through at this time we deserve the tyranny of Fascism that results. This we can see now in the over use of executive privilege, by this administration, is the result of our failure to prosecute for justice. It could never be a waste to curb the destruction of the "Bill of Rights" or the Constitution even if its fruition occurs after the office vacated by the suspected criminal.

    July 25, 2007 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  24. bprosserme

    House is out of control and reaching beyond their job descriptions.

    July 25, 2007 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  25. Jon, Sacramento ~ Ca

    *** UPDATE ****

    As I posted earlier – the House Panel has contacted the US Attorney's office about pursuing contempt charges. The US Attorney's office immediately responded they would NOT take the contempt charges to court because they (US Attorney) do not agree employees covered under executive privilege can be cited for contempt charges from congress (in this specific instance).

    More wasted time... more wasted money...

    Go ahead (House of Reps) and vote for the contempt charges. This is only going to be solved through the Federal Courts determining IF executive privilege applies or not. If it does – game over. If not.. the fishing trip will continue.

    July 25, 2007 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
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