U.S. attorney timeline/June 12, 2007-present

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U.S. attorney timeline/April 10-June 11, 2007

U.S. attorney timeline/June 12, 2007-present

Contents

Summary of events from June 12, 2007-present

No summary yet b/c info stuff being added

Timeline

June 12, 2007: Emails reveal White House aides' involvement, additional subpoenas issued

On June 12, 2007, the Justice Department released additional emails further linking Karl Rove's former aides--former White House political director Sara Taylor and her deputy J. Scott Jennings--to the U.S. Attorney scandal, and specifically to the case of Tim Griffin.[1] Following the release of the emails, the House Judiciary Committee and Senate Judiciary Committee issued subpoenas for testimony for Taylor and former White House counsel Harriet Miers.[2] The subpoenas request all relevant documents relating to the firings in addition to the officials' testimony, while the White House has offered to make former officials available only in private interviews, without transcripts.[3] Sen. Arlen Specter (R-P.A.), the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, endorsed the subpoenas, explaining that as the committee "really had no response from the White House" to its inquiries, "it is appropriate to issue the subpoenas."[4]

June 12, 2007: RNC documents and emails subpoenaed

On July 12, 2007, the House Committee on the Judiciary authorized issuing subpoenas to the Republican National Committee for documents and emails relating to the U.S. attorney firings. The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform had also subpoenaed the RNC for emails relating to the firings. Previously, the Judiciary Committee had sent a letter to RNC Chairman Robert M. Duncan in the spring requesting “prompt delivery” to the committee of “all e-mail communications and all meta-data underlying them” stored on RNC servers or under its control.[5]

June 21, 2007:House Judiciary Committee launches whistleblower web site

On June 21, 2007, Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), in his capacity as Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee launched a web site inviting U.S. Department of Justice employees to inform Congress of political appointees and partisanship at the DOJ.[6] The site, called "Write Congress to Right Justice," was designed to give whistleblowers a confidential and anonymous means of contacting the committee.[7]

June 22, 2007:House Judiciary Committee threatens a contempt of Congress motion

On June 22, 2007, House Judiciary Committee Democrats warned that they would pursue a contempt of Congress motion if the White House does not respond to subpoenas for testimony and documents related to the U.S. attorney firings controversy.

The first deadline for White House compliance with the subpoenas is June 28, 2007. House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.) commented, "We’re still hopeful they may cooperate. But it’s still possible that enforcement action may be taken."[8]

If the House passed a contempt of Congress motion, it would be referred to Jeffrey A. Taylor, the U.S. attorney in the District of Columbia. The Department of Justice would then be called on to enforce it.[9]

June 27, 2007:Former U.S. Attorney Paul Charlton testifies before Senate Judiciary Committee

On June 27, 2007, Paul Charlton, a former U.S. attorney testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee, revealing the details behind his clash with the Justice Department over a death penalty case he was prosecuting. While the DoJ wanted to push for the death penalty, Charlton felt that the evidence did not meet the standard. One of the highlights of his testimony was that when he raised concerns in the Department, he was pushed aside. He stated that Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty had told him that he had spent "as much as 5 to 10 minutes" with the Attorney General discussing the issue, declaring it a "significant amount of time."[10]

For more information on the disagreement, see the Mid- late August 2006 section of the timeline.

June 28, 2007: White House says it will not comply with subpoenas

On June 28, 2007, the White House stated that it would not comply with congressional subpoenas for documents and testimony relating to the firings of federal prosecutors. Fred F. Fielding, President Bush's counsel, wrote in a letter to Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, "I write at the direction of the President to advise and inform you that the President has decided to assert executive privilege and therefore the White House will not be making any production in response to these subpoenas for documents." This action set up a potential constitutional confrontation over the claim of executive privilege.[11]

June 29, 2007: Committees ask Bush to relinquish or expand his executive privilege claim

On June 29, both the House and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairmen, Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.)and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), issued a letter to White House Counsel Fred Fielding, "asking President Bush to relinquish or expand upon his broad claim of executive privilege to withhold documents and testimony relating to the mass firings of U.S. attorneys." The chairmen set a July 9 deadline for a reply before they would move to issuing a contempt of Congress motion.[12]

July 11, 2007: White House aides scheduled to appear before Congress

On July 11, 2007, former White House aid Sara Taylor was scheduled to appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee to answer questions as a "willing and cooperative private citizen." Taylor also stressed, however, that she would adhere to the President's invocation of executive privilege, and not answer questions about "White House consideration, deliberations, or communications, whether internal or external, relating to the possible dismissal or appointment of United States attorneys."[13] Another aid, Harriet Miers, was scheduled to appear before the House Judiciary Committee.[14]

July 11, 2007: Miers refuses to appear

On July 11, 2007, Former White House counsel Harriet Miers’s attorney George Mannin announced that she would not appear before the House Judiciary Committee, stating that White Counsel Fred Fielding instructed him that Miers’s testimony would be protected under executive privilege and that she therefore would not need to appear at the hearing.[15]

House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) and House Commercial and Administrative Law Subcommittee Chairwoman Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.) harshly criticized the decision, arguing “We are aware of absolutely no court decision that supports the notion that a former White House official has the option of refusing to even appear in response to a Congressional subpoena... To the contrary, the courts have made clear that no present or former government official — even the president — is above the law and may completely disregard a legal directive such as the Committee’s subpoena... A refusal to appear before the Subcommittee tomorrow could subject Ms. Miers to contempt proceedings.”[16]

Following Miers' refusal to appear, the Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Commercial and Administrative Law voted that White House claims to immunity and executive privilege were invalid. Such a vote is a necessary precursor to pursuing contempt proceedings against Miers.[17]

Miers' announcement followed White House aide Sara Taylor's revealing testimony on the U.S. attorney firings scandal.

July 12, 2007: Plan to subpoena RNC documents

On July 12, 2007, the House Judiciary Committee authorized issuing subpoenas to the Republican National Committee for documents and emails relating to the U.S. attorney firings. The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform had also subpoenaed the RNC for emails relating to the firings. Previously, the Judiciary Committee had sent a letter to RNC Chairman Robert M. Duncan in the spring requesting “prompt delivery” to the committee of “all e-mail communications and all meta-data underlying them” stored on RNC servers or under its control.[18]

July 17, 2007: Gonzales scheduled to testify again

In late July 2007, Gonzales was scheduled to testify again before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Following his previous performance, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) sent a letter to Gonzalez on July 17 in anticipation of his upcoming appearance before the panel. In order to "assist" the Attorney General in his preparation and avoid so many instances of "I don't recall" answers, Leahy included a list of questions he planned to ask Gonzales at the hearing.[19]

July 23, 2007: Plan to issue contempt citations

On July 23, Chair John Conyers (D-Mich.) announced that the panel would vote on contempt citations against White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten and former White House Counsel Harriet Miers. Each refused to comply with a subpoena to testify regarding the U.S. attorney firings controversy. Conyers stated, "This investigation, including the reluctant but necessary decision to move forward with contempt, has been a very deliberative process, taking care at each step to respect the Executive Branch’s legitimate prerogatives.”[20]

July 24, 2007: Gonzales testifies, possible independent counsel and perjury probe sought

On July 24, 2007, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales testified for the second time before the Judiciary Committee on various issues, including the U.S. attorney firings and domestic wiretapping. Gonzales faced heavy criticism for his testimony, which several committee members, Democrat and Republican, disputed. In particular, Democratic congressional leaders denied having agreed to the continuation of classified domestic surveillance operations that the Justice Department deemed illegal, as claimed by Gonzales. Citing discrepancy in sworn testimony and essentially accusing Gonzales of lying, the committee also stated that it would review the Attorney General's testimony to see if his "credibility [had] been breached to the point of being actionable," in order to file perjury charges.[21]

On July 26th, Patrick Leahy (D-Va.) stated that he would give Gonzales a week to revise his testimony or he would ask Justice Department Inspector General Glenn A. Fine to conduct a perjury inquiry. Leahy stated, "I'll ask the inspector general to determine who's telling the truth."[22]

Other Democrats expressed dissatisfaction with the one week delay, however, and moved for an immediate perjury probe. Later in the day, after Leahy had given his one week ultimatum, Judiciary Committee Senators Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) asked Solicitor General Paul Clement to appoint a special counsel to investigate possible perjury charges against Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.[23]

July 24, 2007: Special prosecutor sought to investigate White House claims of executive privilege

The Senate Judiciary Committee threatened to hold an inherent contempt trial if Gonzales does not appoint a special prosecutor to challenge the White House's claim of executive privilege in the U.S. attorney firings investigation.[24]

July 25, 2007: House Judiciary Committee holds Miers and Bolton in contempt

On July 25, 2007, the House Judiciary Committee voted to hold White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten and former White House Counsel Harriet Miers in contempt of Congress. The vote was divided along party lines.[25]

"This is not a partisan concern or a partisan exercise," said panel chairmen Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.). Republicans opposed the motion, arguing that the probe into the U.S. attorneys’ firings was a partisan waste of time and that they would not hold up in court.[26]

Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), the former chairman of the panel, commented "I think the White House is going to win in court... If we do bring the case to court and lose, then that is going to be viewed as a blank check by the current president and the future presidents to snub the Congress."[27]

The next step is for the contempt of Congress motion to be voted on in the House.[28]

July 26, 2007: House contempt vote pushed to the fall

On July 26, 2007, House Democrats stated that the contempt of Congress vote on Harriet Miers and Josh Bolten would not have a high priority in their voting schedule. With many important appropriations bills waiting to be voted on, a House leadership aide commented, "We’re not going to bump it up to the front of the queue in a busy week."[29]

Though the vote was pushed to the fall, House Democrats emphasized that the bill would not be sidelined permanently, with the possibility of being considered as early as September.[30]

July 26, 2007: White House aides Karl Rove, Scott Jennings, to be issued subpoenas

On July 26, 2007, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-V.T.) said he would subpoena White House political adviser Karl Rove and Deputy Director of Political Affairs Scott Jennings about their roles in the attorney firings. Leahy explained the decision:

For over four months, I've exhausted every avenue, seeking the voluntary cooperation of Karl Rove and J. Scott Jennings but to no avail. They have stonewalled every request.
Indeed the White House is choosing to withhold documents and is instructing witnesses who are former officials -- not current officials but former officials -- to refuse to answer questions and provide information and documents. We've now reached a point where the accumulated evidence shows that political considerations factored into the unprecedented firing of at least nine United States attorneys last year.[31]

August 1, 2007: White House claims executive privilege on testimony

On August 1, 2007, as expected, the White House issued a letter claiming executive privilege with regard to Karl Rove and Scott Jennings's testimony on the U.S. attorney firings controversy. The White House claimed that as an "immediate presidential advisor," Rove was "immune" from Congressional subpoena. Jennings, however, would testify.[32]

August 2, 2007: Rove aide Scott Jennings testifies

On August 2, 2007, Karl Rove's aide, Scott Jennings testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee. It was reported that Jennings gave very little information on the U.S. attorney firings, refused to answer even the most basic questions, citing the President's assertion of executive privilege.

In one exchange, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) asked Jennings his role in the selection of U.S. attorney nominees. When Jennings refused to answer based on the executive privilege claim, Leahy responded, "now, let's not be too contemptuous of this committee, I'm just asking you what you do."[33]

Articles and resources

See also

References

  1. "New Justice Dept. Emails Reveal Top Rove Aides’ Involvement In Attorney Scandal," Think Progress, June 12, 2007.
  2. Dana Bash and Ted Barrett, "Judiciary committees to issue two subpoenas in U.S. attorneys firings probe," CNN Political Ticker, June 13, 2007.
  3. "Miers Will Be Subpoenaed, Officials Say," Associated Press accessed via New York Times, June 13, 2007.
  4. Kalus Marre, "Specter endorses subpoena of White House official," The Hill, June 13, 2007.
  5. Caitlin Webber, "Subpoenas Authorized for RNC Documents on Firings," CQ, July 12, 2007.
  6. Klaus Marre, "Conyers launches site for DOJ whistleblowers," The Hill, June 21, 2007.
  7. House Committee on the Judiciary, "Write Congress to Right Justice," U.S. House of Representatives, June 21, 2007.
  8. Susan Crabtree. "White House contempt," The Hill. June 22, 2007.
  9. Susan Crabtree. "White House contempt," The Hill. June 22, 2007.
  10. Paul Kiel, "Today's Must Read," TPM Muckraker, June 28, 2007.
  11. William Branigin. "Bush Won't Supply Subpoenaed Documents," Washington Post. June 28, 2007.
  12. Elana Schor, "Dems take next steps toward enforcing subpoenas," The Hill, June 29, 2007.
  13. Jim Rutenberg, "Former Bush Aide Will Answer Some Questions," New York Times, July 11, 2007.
  14. Jane Roh, "Will Harriet Miers Show?" National Journal, July 10, 2007.
  15. Jeremy Jacobs. "Miers won’t testify," The Hill. July 11, 2007.
  16. Jeremy Jacobs. "Miers won’t testify," The Hill. July 11, 2007.
  17. Paul Singer, "Miers a No-Show on Hill; House Subcommittee Rules Privilege Claim Invalid," Roll Call, July 12, 2007.
  18. Caitlin Webber, "Subpoenas Authorized for RNC Documents on Firings," CQ, July 12, 2007.
  19. Paul Kiel, "Leahy to Gonzales: Start Trying to Remember Now," TPM Muckraker, July 18, 2007.
  20. John Bresnahan, "House Judiciary to vote Wednesday on contempt citations against Bolten and Miers," Politico.com, July 23, 2007.
  21. Dan Eggen and Paul Kane, "Gonzales, Senators Spar on Credibility," Washington Post, July 25, 2007.
  22. Spencer Ackerman. "Gonzales Running out of Perjury Options," TPM Muckraker. July 26, 2007.
  23. "Democrats Call for Special Counsel to Probe Gonzales; Leahy Subpoenas Rove, Jennings," Roll Call. July 27, 2007.
  24. Elana Schor, "Sens. say Gonzales lied," The Hill, July 25, 2007.
  25. Susan Crabtree. "House Judiciary holds Bolten, Miers in contempt," The Hill." July 25, 2007.
  26. Susan Crabtree. "House Judiciary holds Bolten, Miers in contempt," The Hill." July 25, 2007.
  27. Susan Crabtree. "House Judiciary holds Bolten, Miers in contempt," The Hill." July 25, 2007.
  28. Susan Crabtree. "House Judiciary holds Bolten, Miers in contempt," The Hill." July 25, 2007.
  29. Jennifer Yachnin. "Contempt Votes to Wait Until Fall," Roll Call. July 26, 2007.
  30. Jennifer Yachnin. "Contempt Votes to Wait Until Fall," Roll Call. July 26, 2007.
  31. Staff Reports, "Leahy says he'll subpoena Rove, aide," CNN, July 26, 2007.
  32. Paul Kiel, "Rove Aide Testifies, Rove Does Not," TPM Muckraker, August 2, 2007.
  33. Paul Kiel, "Rove Aide Refuses to Answer Questions on U.S. Attorney Firings," TPM Muckraker, August 2, 2007.

External articles

Will Thomas, "U.S. Attorney Purge Timeline," Talking Points Memo, May 14, 2007.

External resources

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