Thursday, July 31, 2008

Ruling: White House Aides Not Immune From Congressional Subpoenas


A federal court ruled today that top White House aides are not immune from congressional subpoenas, a decision that is likely to reignite the investigation into politicization at the Justice Department.

In a 93-page ruling, U.S. District Judge John Bates wrote there was no legal basis for the Bush administration's claim that executive privilege protects former White House Counsel Harriet Miers and Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten from congressional oversight.

"Presidential autonomy, such as it is, cannot mean that the executive's actions are totally insulated from scrutiny by Congress," Bates wrote. "That would eviscerate Congress's historical oversight function."

For months, the White House has pushed back congressional efforts to force top aides to testify about who made the decision to abruptly fire nine U.S. Attorneys in 2006. But after months of public spats, subpoenas and a court battle, today's ruling ordered that Miers appear before Congress, though she can still refuse to answer questions on a case by case basis.

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