Skip to comments.Broader Privilege Claimed In Firings
Posted on 07/20/2007 8:52:39 AM PDT by gondramB
Bush administration officials unveiled a bold new assertion of executive authority yesterday in the dispute over the firing of nine U.S. attorneys, saying that the Justice Department will never be allowed to pursue contempt charges initiated by Congress against White House officials once the president has invoked executive privilege.
The position presents serious legal and political obstacles for congressional Democrats, who have begun laying the groundwork for contempt proceedings against current and former White House officials in order to pry loose information about the dismissals.
Under federal law, a statutory contempt citation by the House or Senate must be submitted to the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, "whose duty it shall be to bring the matter before the grand jury for its action."
But administration officials argued yesterday that Congress has no power to force a U.S. attorney to pursue contempt charges in cases, such as the prosecutor firings, in which the president has declared that testimony or documents are protected from release by executive privilege. Officials pointed to a Justice Department legal opinion during the Reagan administration, which made the same argument in a case that was never resolved by the courts.
(Excerpt) Read more at washingtonpost.com ...
Even though conviction seems impossible it will not be good for the country.
Hopefully the Press has this wrong of the President will back off. The President can fire all the attorneys he wants - that's (unfortunately a political position. Tell the Justice Department they cannot pursue charges against the White House would be viewed as political interference in an investigation of which he is a target - that sounds a whole lot like obstruction of justice.
Hopefully the story is wrong.
I guess they don’t understand ‘at the pleasure of the President’.
It’ll be interesting to hear Mark Levin’s opinion on this tonight...
Yep, if the Justice Department can’t do it, then all that’s left is an endless stream of “Special Prosecutors” - and that is certainly a failed experiment.
Let them bring on Impeachment. If the American people punished the Republicans for bringing on Impeachment of Clinton during a time of false, then let’s see how the America people react toward Congress if they go for impeachment during a time of dire war.
The president can definitely fire the attorneys, it’s certainly his pleasure, — but when their terms are up for renewal, NOT in the middle of their terms.
That is the big difference here.
It concluded: The President, through a United States Attorney, need not, indeed may not, prosecute criminally a subordinate for asserting on his behalf a claim of executive privilege. Nor could the Legislative Branch or the courts require or implement the prosecution of such an individual.
You are being hysterical. The President has claimed executive privilege in this case. If the congress disagrees that executive privilege applies then they can take that to the courts. What would the point of a privilege be if the congress could still compel testimony or documents claimed under the privilege?
This is a fishing expedition by congress. Its politically motivated and nothing illegal has been done. So, its not obstruction of justice.
If they had evidence that an illegal act occurred then I might be inclined to see your point of view.
Please show us your source for this law.
US attorneys serve at the pleasure of the President. Period.
That I didn’t know. Thanks for pointing it out.
No, they are at will employees, who can be fired for any reason, including no reason at all, at any time.
This is purely a matter within the powers of the President and not subject to congressional interference.
Congress has absolutely no authority to go on a hunting expedition amongst the Ex. Branch papers with NO hint of wrong doing.
Where did you get this? That is totally wrong.
B*llSh!t gondram! The President must protect the U.S. Constitution and the Executive Office. The U.S. Congress can not compel the Office of the President which includes the advisers! It is the Democrat Congress that is usurping power it does not legitimately hold.
What a load of crap. Please cite the law.
This story is pure spin.
Congress is trying to weaking the presidential power to just a “policeman at the pleasure of congress”.
They want to push a parlamentary system of governance where the house speaker, SELECTED by politicians rather than LEGAL VOTERS, is the head of the USA.
Actually, Congress does need to restore its authority to hold individuals who refuse to testify before it in contempt. Too many people in the last 20 or 30 years have just sneered at Congress, openly lied and refused to testify or just not shown up to testify.
And by this, I mean they need to perform “inherent contempt” hearings, not foist off their duty to the Justice Department in the first place.
In turn, this would force Congress to restore some sense to the hearings process. They hold far too many nonsense and harassment hearings and have for far too long.
“In 1821, the Supreme Court issued its decision in Anderson v. Dunn, 19 U.S. (6 Wheat.) 204 (1821) which held that Congress’ power to hold someone in contempt was essential to ensure that Congress was “not exposed to every indignity and interruption that rudeness, caprice, or even conspiracy, may mediate against it.”
The historical interpretation that bribery of a Senator or Representative was considered contempt of Congress has long since been abandoned in favor of criminal statutes. In 1857, Congress enacted a law which made “contempt of Congress” a criminal offense against the United States.
Under this process, the procedure for holding a person in (inherent) contempt involves only the chamber concerned. Following a contempt citation, the person cited for contempt is arrested by the Sergeant-at-Arms for the House or Senate, brought to the floor of the chamber, held to answer charges by the presiding officer, and then subject to punishment that the House may dictate (usually imprisonment for punishment reasons, imprisonment for coercive effect, or release from the contempt citation.)
Concerned with the time-consuming nature of a contempt proceeding and the inability to extend punishment further than the session of the Congress concerned (under Supreme Court rulings), Congress created a statutory process in 1857.
While Congress retains its “inherent contempt” authority and may exercise it at any time, this inherent contempt process was last used by the Senate in 1934, against a U.S. Postmaster. After a one-week trial on the Senate floor (presided by the Vice-President of the United States, acting as Senate President), a former Postmaster, William P. MacCracken, was found guilty and sentenced to 10 days imprisonment.
The Postmaster had filed a petition of Habeas Corpus in federal courts to overturn his arrest, but after litigation, the US Supreme Court ruled that Congress had acted constitutionally, and denied the petition in the case Jurney v. MacCracken, 294 U.S. 125 (1935).
The US Constitution has a procedure for pursuing charges against the President — it’s called impeachment. Anything else is just the blowhards in a Demagogue Congress harassing the WH with bogus allegations. They can go F*** each other.
Agreed. The poster took the quote out of context, leaving out: “once the president has invoked executive privilege”
What is serious is that knuckleheads like Connyers and others of his type think they are president.
Andrew, you're not in Daily Kos or 911Truth right now. You're in Free Republic, so you need to be honest, and make factual assertions, not emotional ones.
As for your assertion above, you're wrong:
TITLE 28 > PART II > CHAPTER 35 > § 541
(c) Each United States attorney is subject to removal by the President.
TITLE 28 > PART II > CHAPTER 35 > § 542
(b) Each assistant United States attorney is subject to removal by the Attorney General.
>>B*llSh!t gondram! The President must protect the U.S. Constitution and the Executive Office. The U.S. Congress can not compel the Office of the President which includes the advisers! It is the Democrat Congress that is usurping power it does not legitimately hold.<<
I got called into work right after I posted this - I wish I had phrased that better.
that said, President Reagan let the Justice department make this ruling. That’s different than if President Bush really ordered the Justice Department not carry a contempt of congress order.
Not different at all. The U.S. Congress can not compel the Office of the President which includes the advisers! It is the Democrat Congress that is usurping power it does not legitimately hold. The US Congress is not a Parliament.
no, it’s not wrong. It perfectly describes Bush’s attitude—just look at the immigration bill.
I don’t understand how so many supposed conservatives here can support this.
It seems to me that the justice department is the one who should initiate thing rather than Congress. Congress makes the laws. They don’t enforce them. If a law was broken, they could perhaps point to which one was broken (which of course they can’t because these attorneys serve at the will of the President).
What is deadly serious is how Congress is trying to destroy the separation of powers and weaken the Presidency of the nation. They want to rule it ALL. They need to be checked on their agressive campaign to destroy Bush. THEY are abusing their power. NOT the President.
yep those are the dem talking points all right.
>> It concluded: The President, through a United States Attorney, need not, indeed may not, prosecute criminally a subordinate for asserting on his behalf a claim of executive privilege. Nor could the Legislative Branch or the courts require or implement the prosecution of such an individual.
You are being hysterical. The President has claimed executive privilege in this case. If the congress disagrees that executive privilege applies then they can take that to the courts. What would the point of a privilege be if the congress could still compel testimony or documents claimed under the privilege?<<
I try to never post and run - its just been bad circumstances today.
I do wish I’d phrased that initial post better.
But it seems to me there is a fundamental difference IF the article is accurate.
under President Reagan the justice department declined to pursue a contempt of congress prosecution. If the article were correct and President Bush was ordering the Justice department not to pursue a contempt of congress referral against him that would be different.
But its been many hours since then and I still have not have ten minutes to catch up so maybe I did read things wrong or there is new data etc. I’ll find out in the morning how stupid I was in that first post.
I salute you for your reasonableness. Good day. :)
Oh yeah, the justice department was told not to pursue a contempt charge by President Reagan, their boss.
You left out a very important part. It actually reads, the Justice Department will never be allowed to pursue contempt charges initiated by Congress against White House officials once the president has invoked executive privilege.
It makes perfect sense to me. Why should the executive branch do the bidding of the legislative branch on a matter the executive has said is a matter of constitutional separation of powers?
They've already said that they disagree with Congress' position. Why should they pursue themselves over a disagreement?
A good example of something that, while legal, just isn’t right.
GW should have cleaned house when he took office - not half way through the term.
Exactly right. Where does it say that Congress has some oversight of the Executive?
If the President says that it’s legal, or says that it is covered by Executive Privilege, then it is. And no one has the right to go fishing with subpoenas. That goes for ANY President, even if Hitlary wins in ‘08. Congress can’t make a President do squat.
That’s the beauty of the system.
What's your source for that?
andrew7 is a troll. Either DUh or Kos. Check out its posts.
>>...under President Reagan the justice department declined to pursue a contempt of congress prosecution. If the article were correct and President Bush was ordering the Justice department not to pursue a contempt of congress referral against him that would be different.
Obviously i have no idea what President Reagan told the JP in private but at least he had the good sense not to announce he was ordering them kill the investigation of himself.
>>Looks like a convoluted double entendre - wherein the justice department cannot pursue charges proffered by congressional democrats based on a fictitious belief that the president does not, and cannot assert executive privilege or terminate anyone that serves only at the pleasure of the president.<<
Maybe Justice can’t or won’t investigate the President but that sure would be better coming from them rather than from the President.
The only two times that executive privalege has gone to the supreme court, that I am aware of, the President lost.
In both cases, Thomas Jefferson and Bill Clinton, the court did not reject the idea of executive privilege but ruled it could not be used to thwart an investigation.
Even if this administration disagrees (which apparently they do) it would be better to have investigations of the President dropped by the Justice Department rather dropped at the order of the President.
That said, this is the Washington Post and there’s no telling how they may have slanted the story.
>>Let them bring on Impeachment. If the American people punished the Republicans for bringing on Impeachment of Clinton during a time of false, then lets see how the America people react toward Congress if they go for impeachment during a time of dire war.<<
I have the same concern about a possible impeachment that I had about the Clinton impeachment - will it hurt the country.
In retrospect I don’t think the Clinton impeachment hurt the country - but who knows about this one, should it happen.
>>The article makes this much sense.<<
Since its been 24 hours and there hasn’t been wide coverage I’m betting that the Washington Post applied to much spin for even the MSM.
I love this picture
“GW should have cleaned house when he took office - not half way through the term.”
Actually he did, the dismissed attorneys were appointed by President Bush during his first four years.
In the Burford case, which involved spending on the Superfund program, the White House filed a federal lawsuit to block Congress's contempt action. The conflict subsided when Burford turned over documents to Congress
The white house is president Reagan's white house.
So... that means Reagan used the courts but gave in before it came to a head, is that correct?
Bush should start every morning by urinating on the Washington Compost and NT Slimes.