WASHINGTON - JULY 12 -Today, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) issued a new report explaining why holding former White House Political Director Sara Taylor and former White Counsel Harriet Miers in contempt for refusing to comply with congressional subpoenas in the scandal over the firing of nine U.S. Attorneys wonít get Congress the information it is seeking. CREW's report explains the legal hurdles involved in citing the two women for contempt and outlines alternative solutions Congress should consider.
A contempt case, which would be brought at the discretion of the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, could result in Ms. Taylor and Ms. Miers being sentenced to up to one year in jail and fined up to $100,000. Such a case could take years and would not result in either woman providing Congress with any information.
The best option may be for Congress to pass legislation to give federal courts jurisdiction to enforce the congressional subpoenas. Congress passed a similar a law in 1973 in response to the Nixon administrationís refusal to provide Watergate tapes and documents to the Senate Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Finances. Congress could also provide the Supreme Court with the authority to hear a direct appeal of the case, ensuring that the Bush administrationís efforts to radically expand the bounds of executive privilege is heard while the president is still in office.
Melanie Sloan, executive director of CREW said today, ďThese two former White House officials are being needlessly pushed and pulled in a political and legal tug-of-war. While the administration continues to put up obstacles to stop the American people from learning the truth about the potentially illegal firings of nine U.S. Attorneys, Congress must find a route to make sure that the government officials responsible are held accountable for their actions.Ē
On July 2, CREW released Crossing the Line: The Bush Administration's Efforts to Expand Its Powerful Reach, which details the Bush administrationís repeated constitutional overreaching and abuse of executive power and prerogative.
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) is a non-profit legal watchdog group dedicated to holding public officials accountable for their actions.