Judiciary Votes to Hold Miers and Bolten in Contempt

Posted July 25, 2007 at 12:06pm

The House Judiciary Committee approved a measure Wednesday recommending the House charge White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten and former White House counsel Harriet Miers with contempt of Congress, passing the measure after a contentious partisan debate.

The report, which must be passed by the full House, was approved 22-17, along party lines.

“It’s not a step that I as chairman take easily or lightly but it is one I believe is necessary, not only to allow us to gain an accurate picture of the facts surrounding the U.S. attorneys controversy, but to protect our constitutional prerogatives as a coequal branch of government,” Judiciary Chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.) said Wednesday.

Republicans objected to the action, characterizing the contempt charges as politically motivated.

“The majority knows that it would leap to the barricades of executive privilege if a Democrat were in the White House,” said Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), the panel’s ranking member.

Bolten and Miers each refused to respond to the committee’s subpoenas for testimony and documents in the investigation of the firing of nine U.S. attorneys late last year. Miers and Bolten have declined to comply with the subpoenas at the direction of the White House, which has asserted that they are protected from Congressional subpoena power by executive privilege.

— Jennifer Yachnin