Update 7/9 10:42am: The latest volley in the battle over executive privilege…
President Bush invoked executive privilege Monday to deny requests by Congress for testimony from two former aides in connection with the firings of federal prosecutors. The White House, however, did offer again to make former counsel Harriet Miers and one-time political director Sara Taylor available for private, off-the-record interviews.
In a letter to the heads of the House and Senate Judiciary panels, White House counsel Fred Fielding insisted that Bush was acting in good faith and refused lawmakers’ demand that the president explain the basis for invoking the privilege. The latest move in the separation of powers fight between the legislative and executive branches came as members of Congress began returning from their Fourth of July recess. An atmosphere of high tension accompanied the resumption of work as a fight also loomed there between majority Democrats and some key Republicans and Bush over his Iraq war policy.
In his letter regarding subpoenas the Judiciary panels issued, Fielding said, “The president feels compelled to assert executive privilege with respect to the testimony sought from Sara M. Taylor and Harriet E. Miers.” “You may be assured that the president’s assertion here comports with prior practices in similar contexts, and that it has been appropriately documented,” the letter said.
Fielding was responding to a 10 a.m. EDT deadline set by the Democratic chairmen, Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont and Rep. John Conyers of Michigan, for the White House to explain [its] privilege claim, prove that the president personally invoked it and provide logs of which documents were being withheld. As expected, Fielding refused to comply.
Update 7/9 9:34am: Congress returns, ready to battle Bush
Update: Cindy Sheehan returns: “Cindy Sheehan, the soldier’s mother who galvanized the anti-war movement, said Sunday that she plans to run against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi unless she introduces articles of impeachment against President Bush in the next two weeks.”
First, a flashback. Remember this headline:
By Charles Babington
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, May 12, 2006; Page A06
Seeking to choke off a Republican rallying cry, the House’s top Democrat has told colleagues that the party will not seek to impeach President Bush even if it gains control of the House in November’s elections, her office said last night.
And remember this one:
House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco has told her caucus that the idea of impeaching President Bush isn’t in the cards if the party takes over the House in November’s elections.
Pelosi, who Republicans have charged intends to lead an impeachment effort, dismissed the idea when she spoke Wednesday morning at a closed-door caucus of the House’s 201 Democrats. Pelosi also restated her opposition to the idea of censuring Bush over his decision to invade Iraq in March 2003.
“We want oversight and checks and balances,” Pelosi spokesman Brendan Daly said she told the caucus. “That certainly isn’t being done in this Congress (under Republican control). Impeachment was never her interest.”
Promises, promises. Let’s fast-forward:
Impeachment pied piper John Conyers, enraged by President Bush’s commutation of Scooter Libby’s prison sentence, will hold hearings next week to examine presidential pardons. (He’s come along way from those make-believe hearings in 2005.) Make no mistake: Conyer’s tilling the political soil for his impeachment drive:
“Yes, we’re going to review all of them, including Clinton’s, Bush one, Bush two, we’ll go back as far as they want,” Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., said in an exclusive interview with FOX News Radio. Conyers added that the Nixon pardon would also be covered in the review.
“We’ll be doing the research. We won’t need to review each and every one of them but the whole idea is to examine to what use this part of our criminal law is being put and whether it’s being used adequately or are there other changes necessary,” he said.
Conyers said he doesn’t think President Bush acted outside his constitutional authority in commuting Libby’s 2 1/2-year prison sentence, but he questions the use of that authority.
Those who can, govern. Those who can’t, “question authority.” If there was any doubt before, there is no more doubt now: The nutroots Congress is ascendant. Nancy Pelosi’s true colors will show.