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House Approves Contempt Resolutions for Miers and Bolten

February 14, 2008

Today, the House has just approved H.Res. 982 by a vote of 223-32-1, which provides for the adoption of H.Res. 979, recommending that the House of Representatives find Harriet Miers, former White House Counsel, and Joshua Bolten, the White House Chief of Staff, in contempt of Congress for refusal to comply with subpoenas issued by the Judiciary Committee. These subpoenas were issued as part of the Committee’s investigation into the firings of a number of United States Attorneys and matters concerning the politicization of the Justice Department. This resolution also provides for adoption of H.Res. 980 – Authorizing the Committee on the Judiciary to initiate or intervene in judicial proceedings to enforce certain subpoenas.

Read more in our current legislation section, or see the Gavel archives on the US Attorney scandals.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi: “This is beyond arrogance. This is hubris taken to the ultimate degree. As former Congressman Edwards, again, I remind a former member in the Republican leadership of the House, said, ‘No Congress, indeed no lawyer, would ever agree to such an outrageous demand.'”
Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers: “This is not a confrontation we have sought, and is one we are still hoping to avoid. However, I believe on the merits our case is quite strong. Unlike other disputes involving executive privilege, the President has never personally asserted privilege, the Committee has never been given a privilege log, and there is no indication the President was ever personally involved in the termination decisions.”
Rep. Louise Slaughter: “If we count on a process where subpoenas can be readily ignored; where a witness under a duly authorized subpoena doesn't even bother to appear; where privilege can be asserted on the thinnest of reeds and the broadest possible manner, then we have already lost and we may be in much more danger than even we believe.”
Rep. Brad Miller: “The President cannot decide by decree. The President cannot announce with absolute unreviewable authority what information the Administration will provide or withhold. The framers of our Constitution had just fought a war against an autocratic king. It is inconceivable that they intended to create and executive branch with the power the Bush Administration now claims and that the minority now supports.”
Rep. Linda Sánchez: “Members on both sides of the aisle should recognize the gravity of this vote. If the executive branch is allowed to simply ignore Congressional subpoenas while Congress idly stands by, we will have abdicated our role of oversight of the executive branch and undermined our system of checks and balances.”
Rep. John Yarmuth: “So when we came here, one of the things we did was to start talking about Article 1. Article 1, which established the Congress of the United States and vested all legislative powers therein. We started wearing these buttons, Article 1 buttons, and we offered them to Members of both parties hoping that this would not be a partisan issue and not be an expression of partisanship, and instead of respect for the integrity of this institution. Unfortunately, most of my colleagues on the other side chose not to wear these buttons. They’ve chosen to make this a partisan issue. In spite of the fact that during the last six years before we took control of the Congress, no subpoenas were issued against this president, no efforts to hold him accountable were made in spite of the fact that in the prior administration, 1,000 subpoenas were offered by the Republican Congress to the Democratic president.”