Senate Panel Delays for a Week Consideration of Contempt Motion

Posted December 6, 2007 at 10:58am

On Thursday morning, Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, asked for a one-week delay in the committee’s consideration of a motion to hold senior White House officials in contempt.

Specter has fought for a negotiated solution to the dispute and warned Democrats that the matter will not be resolved by the legal system before the end of the Bush administration.

But Specter indicated he would ultimately support the citation, as long as what he said was inflammatory political rhetoric opposed by his Republican colleagues in the “whereas” clauses was toned down.

“The one thing that I think that is not tolerable is to make a commitment not to proceed further,” Specter said at the Judiciary meeting Thursday. “We cannot abrogate or give up or relinquish our constitutional authority.”

The committee also delayed consideration of Specter’s alternative proposal to reauthorize the Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping program, which would make the government, not telecom companies, liable for providing personal information.

Last week, Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) said attempts by the administration to block documents and testimony from top former and current White House aides were legally invalid.

The committee has subpoenaed in connection with the firing of nine federal prosecutors White House Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten, ex-White House political honcho Karl Rove, former White House political director Sara Taylor and her deputy, Scott Jennings.

White House counsel Fred Fielding has prohibited them from testifying, claiming they are covered by executive privilege.