Attorney Controversy is About Politics, Not Law

Discussion in 'Politics' started by red states rule, Jul 27, 2007.

  1. red states rule

    red states rule Senior Member

    May 30, 2006
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    Dems continue to waste time, and money, over this made up scandal

    It is all about politics - not a violation of the law

    Attorney Controversy is About Politics, Not Law
    By Kimberley Strassel

    A president removes a U.S. attorney, and Congress demands to see privileged files related to the firing. The president refuses, noting that "these suspensions are my executive acts," and "based upon considerations addressed to me alone." The Senate has a meltdown, arguing it has oversight authority over the removal of administration officials and threatens to censure the attorney general.

    If this sounds familiar, it shouldn't, since it's the story of a long-forgotten battle that President Grover Cleveland fought with Congress in 1885. One reason it is long-forgotten is because nothing happened. The Senate was steamed that Cleveland wouldn't cough up the docs, but it also recognized there were limits on its power. It never did hold any officials in contempt, never did take any judicial action. Instead, it confirmed Cleveland's new choice for the U.S. attorney position.

    What a difference 122 years makes. Democrats are conducting an insincere probe into President Bush's firing of U.S. attorneys, but these days they see no constitutional reason why the White House shouldn't cooperate in their partisan attack. In response to the administration's refusal to respond to subpoenas, the House Judiciary Committee this week voted to issue criminal contempt citations against Chief of Staff Josh Bolten and former White House Counsel Harriet Miers.

    Chairman John Conyers is spinning the line that his party had no choice, but was forced into this by a recalcitrant president who is eviscerating Congress's oversight authority. If you believe that, Mr. Conyers also has a Capitol building to sell you. The contempt citations are, rather, an audacious break with history and Mr. Conyers has far more honorable options. The reason Democrats haven't pursued those more dignified routes is because this is about smearing the president, not proving a principle.

    Let's remember how we got here. Democrats latched on to the firings in hopes of building some case that the White House had engaged in cronyism and cover-up. The Justice Department, in the spirit of cooperation, turned over 8,500 documents and made available a parade of officials for public testimony. Mr. Conyers and his counterpart at Senate Judiciary, Patrick Leahy, found nothing. So they then demanded the White House turn over privileged communications and submit high-ranking officials to public questioning. Mr. Bush invoked executive privilege, and Mr. Conyers went to Defcon contempt.

    This is a constitutional issue, but you don't have to be Robert Bork to get your head around it. The Founders created three separate (but equal) branches of government. The Constitution gave each their own powers, while also supplying checks to prevent the branches from encroaching on each other.

    Congress gave itself the right to issue criminal contempt citations long ago, and bully for it, but there's nothing in legal history to suggest that in this case it has the right to apply that power to the president or his subordinates. It'd be one thing if Mr. Conyers had proved beyond doubt that a crime had been committed. He hasn't. Instead, this is a straightforward battle between Mr. Bush's claim of executive privilege and Congress's claim of oversight. Both sides, in theory, have a legitimate case.

    So the idea that Congress now gets to win this battle by simply declaring the other side criminal is bizarre. Under that twisted logic, Mr. Bush has just as much right to grant himself a similar power and hold Mr. Conyers in criminal contempt for interfering in executive-branch business. This is not, obviously, a very grown-up way of settling constitutional disputes.

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