House Judiciary Seeks Speedy Ruling In Contempt Case Against Bolten, Miers

The House General Counsel's Office, which is representing the Judiciary Committee in a civil contempt lawsuit against White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten and former White House Counsel Harriet Miers, has asked a federal judge to set up an expedited schedule to resolve portions of the case, a schedule that would require a ruling by this summer, according to court documents filed today.

The Justice Department, which is representing Bolten and Miers in the case, countered that the only reason the Judiciary Committee is seeking a speedy determination of the case is so that it "recommence prior to Congress' August recess" its investigation into the firing of nine U.S. attorneys in 2006. The Justice Department wants a slower review of the contempt case, and it is already warning that it may appeal any ruling that goes against it.

In its filing, the House said it intended to seek "partial summary judgement" against Bolten and Miers "at this stage of the litigation" on two issues: first, that Miers failed to even appear in response to a Judiciary Committee subpoena seeking information or documents she might have on the prosecutor purge; and secondly, the failure of Bolten or Miers to provide a "privilege log when withholding documents' on the grounds of executive privilege. President Bush asserted executive privilege in refusing to allow Bolten and Miers to appear before ,or turn over internal White House documents to, the Judiciary Committee on the firings.

The Justice Department has refused to bring criminal contempt charges against Bolten and Miers, relying on DOJ opinions stating that it cannot do so in such cases, so the Judiciary Committee, acting throught the House General Counsel's Office, brought a civil contempt suit against Bolten and Miers.

"The Committee seeks to resolve this litigation expeditiously so that it can obtain the information sought by the subpoenas, complete its investigation, and take any resulting legislative action before the 110th Congerss ends in January, 2009," the General Counsel's Office stated in its filing today. The House lawyers envision having all arguments completed by May 14, making it likely that the U.S District Judge  John D. Bates would rule by the end of the summer.
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