House Democrats File Civil Lawsuit Against Bolten, Miers

House Democrats filed a federal lawsuit today against White House Chief of Josh Bolten and former White House Counsel Harriet Miers for refusing to comply with subpoenas issued by the Judiciary Committee. President Bush refused to allow the two aides to testify to Congress over the firing of nine U.S. attorneys, citing executive privilege.

"We will not allow the Administration to steamroll Congress," House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.) said in a statement. "Under our system of checks and balances, Congress provides oversight of the Executive Branch to make sure that government power is not abused. The Administration’s extreme claims to be immune from the oversight process are at odds with our constitutional principles on which this country was founded, and I am confident the federal courts will agree."

The Justice Department has refused to bring criminal contempt charges against Bolten and Miers, citing previous decisions by the department not to bring such cases.

Conyers wants a federal court to require Miers to appear before the Judiciary Committee, and both Miers and Bolten should provide the panel with a "detailed privilege log" identifying any documents that the White House wants to withhold on privilege grounds. Bolten has been subpoenaed, and now sued, in his role as custodian of White House records.

House and Senate Democrats allege that the White House fired the nine federal prosecutors because they wouldn't go along with the administration's line on voter fraud cases or prosecute political enemies.

"Credible evidence has been presented to suggest that U.S. Attorneys who faield to return desired indictments or failed to bring voter fraud prosecutions that were considered politically useful to the Administrations were forced to resign; that U.S. Attorneys who prosecuted officeholders allied with the Administration were forced to resign; and that U.S. Attorneys who prosecuted the Administration's political oppnents were retained," the lawsuit alleges.

“By filing this lawsuit, House Members recognize the need to defend Congress’ subpoena power against the efforts of any Administration to hide information in order to prevent the exercise of Congress’ oversight and lawmaking responsibilities," Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said in a statement. "This action is completely non-partisan."
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