by Glynn Wilson
In an agreement reached today between the former Bush administration and U.S. House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, the Michigan Democrat, Karl Rove and former White House Counsel Harriet Miers have agreed to testify before the committee in transcribed depositions under penalty of perjury. The committee has also reserved the right to have public testimony from Rove and Miers, according to the press release on the committee’s Website.
The release gives no indication of when this deposition will be scheduled, but it was agreed that invocations of official “executive” privileges would be significantly limited, according to the release, and if the committee uncovers information necessitating it, William Kelley, a former White House lawyer who played a role in the U.S. attorney firings, may also be called to testify in a deposition.
The committee will also receive Bush White House documents relevant to this inquiry, Conyers said, and under the agreement, the landmark ruling by Judge John Bates rejecting key Bush White House claims of executive immunity and privilege will be preserved.
“If the agreement is breached, the committee can resume the litigation,” Conyers said. “I have long said that I would see this matter through to the end and am encouraged that we have finally broken through the Bush administration’s claims of absolute immunity. This is a victory for the separation of powers and congressional oversight.”
He said it was also “a vindication of the search for truth.”
“I am determined to have it known whether U.S. attorneys in the Department of Justice were fired for political reasons,” he said, “and if so, by whom.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the agreement for Karl Rove and Harriet Miers to testify “upholds a fundamental principle: no one is above the law and Congressional subpoenas must be complied with.”
“As public officials, we take an oath of office to uphold the Constitution. It is the institutional duty of Congress — as an independent branch — to ensure against abuse of power through meaningful oversight over the Executive Branch,” she said. “When there are credible allegations about the politicization of law enforcement, the need for Congressional oversight is at its greatest.”
“In upholding our oaths of office, the House of Representatives was determined to preserve checks and balances — the separation of powers that protects the rule of law,” she continued in a statement. “It brought action in court to enforce the Judiciary Committee’s subpoenas, and won a major ruling by U.S. District Judge John Bates dismissing the extreme position of absolute immunity from Congressional oversight advocated by the Bush Administration for former Administration officials. Under this agreement, the precedent established by Judge Bates’ historic ruling rejecting this extreme Bush Administration doctrine will be preserved.
“Today’s agreement is a great victory for the Constitution, the rule of law, and the separation of powers,” she concluded. “I appreciate the strong leadership of Chairman John Conyers and the assistance of the Obama Administration. Congress now has the opportunity to uncover the truth and determine whether improper criteria were used by the Bush Administration to dismiss and retain U.S. Attorneys.”
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy said he hoped the agreement will help to finally uncover the truth about the firings of U.S. Attorneys and the Bush White House cover up designed to shield from public view the inappropriate and illegal actions of the last administration.
“It should not have taken until now to obtain testimony and documents from Bush administration officials connected to the investigation into the firings,” he said in a statement. “Today’s agreement leaves in place the court ruling that rejected the Bush administration’s unprecedented and unfounded blanket claims of executive privilege and immunity. I rejected those claims as excessive and wrong in my ruling on President Bush’s position over a year ago, and a bipartisan majority of the Senate Judiciary Committee ultimately found Karl Rove and former White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten in criminal contempt.
“I commend Chairman Conyers for the agreement reached today,” he continued. “I hope Congress, and the American people, will now finally hear long overdue answers to serious questions about political interference by the Bush White House in our nation’s top law enforcement agency.”
In his reaction via e-mail, former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman said Congressman John Conyers “has worked boldly and courageously to break the impasse between Congress and the Karl Rove’s claim of Executive Privilege.”
“I congratulate Conyers in securing this crucial step toward the truth, I commend the House Judiciary Committee and its staff for its tireless work, and I encourage the Committee to muster the strength needed to hold Karl Rove’s feet to the fire to the fullest extent of the law until he is forth coming,” he said. “As much as this is an important breakthrough toward the truth, we must remember there are others, for example, the husband of the U.S. attorney who prosecuted me, who has been identified as a co-conspirator, and who must also be called before Congress to answer for his part in my prosecution.”
© 2009 – 2012, Glynn Wilson. All rights reserved.