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Finally, we may see the Constitutional crisis that's been brewing for years over the Bush administration's lawlessness.
Rather than even be involved in a vote in defense of Congressional rights to subpoena White House staff, House GOP members walked out yesterday demonstrating their disdain for the rule of law, separation of powers and the Constitution of the United States.
The House passed a resolution 223-32 to hold former White House staff members Harriet Miers and Josh Bolten in contempt of Congress for refusing to testify in the United States Attorney firings scandal. All Republican House members walked out in a demonstration of cowardly solidarity for lawlessness and unaccountability. The contempt citation resolution was the first from Congress in 25 years.
A brief review of how this conspiracy to undermine the Department of Justice began.....
When Congress reauthorized the Patriot Act last year(2006), it included little-noticed language that changed the way U.S. attorneys would be appointed if their predecessors were removed in the middle of their term. Under the old regime, interim U.S. attorneys needed to be confirmed by the Senate after 120 days. If they weren't, federal district judges could select their replacement. The new language removed both judicial and congressional oversight of the interim U.S. attorneys, letting DOJ anoint them indefinitely. This served three important goals: consolidating presidential power, diminishing oversight, and ensuring that "interim" prosecutors had permanent jobs. Link
The "little-noticed language" that was inserted came out of Senator Arlen Specter's (R-PA) office even though he has since come down with total amnesia about it. This whole backdoor effort came out of the cancerous unAmerican mindset of Bush's rogue regime, in which every law, rule and regulation is subject to political gamesmanship. If it can be gotten away with.....try it. And so they did.
Slipped in the renewal of a bill the size of a New York city phone book, the Rovian thinking was that no one would notice the change in how U.S. Attorneys were vetted. No one noticed for quite awhile. During that time Karl Rove and his band of Pat Robertson University graduates at Justice proceeded to plan and carry out a firing schedule of United States Attorneys. The attorneys were either prosecuting Republicans or not bending to White House pressures to prosecute Democrats. Nine U.S.A.'s were fired overall. It was unprecedented.
Newly elected presidents traditionally replace all the 90+ U.S.A.'s when they take office, but firing a group of handpicked U.S.A's in the middle of a president's term, had never been done before. The firings created many questions that needed answered. Harriet Miers and Josh Bolten know many of those answers but were ordered by Bush to refuse to cooperate.
Here are just a few of the questions that have not been answered....
So why was David Iglesias fired? What about Carol Lam? Was her probe brushing up too close against powerful figures at the Pentagon, CIA and on Capitol Hill? What about the White House's effort to goad US Attorneys around the country to push bogus vote fraud cases to help more Republicans get elected? We still don't know the answers to those key questions. And that's mainly because the White House has been stonewalling ever since. That's what these contempt citations were and are about. Link
There is evidence of obstruction of justice, tampering with a federal investigation, and attempting to manipulate elections within the U.S. Attorneys firings scandal. The few remaining Bush supporters suggest the scandal is only an attempt by Democrats to embarass their Dear Leader's administration. However, the country is 7 years into the worst American president's tenure, and we've now seen numerous incidents of lawlessness where Bush supporters have said exactly the same thing in response.
The Constitutional crisis part will come because of what Attorney General Mukasey said this week about enforcing any contempt citation that Congress passes over this scandal....
WEXLER: With respect to the subpoenas, with respect to Mr. Bolten?
MUKASEY: If you're talking about a contempt citation based on Mr. Bolten's failure to appear...
MUKASEY: ... in response to a direction by the president that he not appear, the answer is no. Because he can't violate that request.
WEXLER: Are you the people's lawyer, as you said to the Senate, or are you the president's lawyer?
MUKASEY: I'm the attorney general of the United States. And it's my obligation to enforce all legally binding precedent.
Mukasey, like Alberto Gonzales before him, simply doesn't believe in the oversight duties of Congress if those oversight duties include persuing answers from the executive branch. That's why Junior selected Mukasey. Mukasey, like Gonzales, believes that the president is above the law and has "executive privilege" to not only violate any law he sees fit to order broken.....but to also be free from any oversight or accountability from equal branches of government after his hired guns shatter those laws.
Thus the stage is prepped for a Constitutional crisis. Richard Nixon would be proud.
If Mukasey refuses to honor the contempt citation, the House should use its inherent power to arrest Miers, Bolten and even Mukasey, bring them to the floor of the House and demand that they answer questions. Detain them until they decide to testify.
The House flipped Bush the bird yesterday by refusing to pass Junior's spying-on-Americans program which includes amnesty for lawbreaking corporations.....so maybe they'll go all the way with Miers and Bolten.