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The Associated Press

Attorney General Stalls Bush Aides' Contempt Citations

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Washington — Attorney General Michael Mukasey refused Friday to refer the House's contempt citations against two of President Bush's top aides to a federal grand jury. 0301 05

Mukasey said White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten and former presidential counsel Harriet Miers committed no crime in ignoring subpoenas to provide Congress with White House documents or testify about the controversial firings of nine federal prosecutors in 2006.

"The department will not bring the congressional contempt citations before a grand jury or take any other action to prosecute Mr. Bolten or Ms. Miers," Mukasey wrote House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco.

As promised, Pelosi announced that she has given the Judiciary Committee authority to file a lawsuit against Bolten and Miers in federal court.

"The American people demand that we uphold the law," Pelosi said. "As public officials, we take an oath to uphold the Constitution and protect our system of checks and balances, and our civil lawsuit seeks to do just that."

The House voted two weeks ago to cite Bolten and Miers for contempt of Congress and seek a grand jury investigation. Most Republicans boycotted the vote.

Pelosi said the House would file a civil suit seeking enforcement of the contempt citations if federal prosecutors declined to seek misdemeanor charges against Bolten and Miers. The plaintiffs would be the entire Judiciary Committee, who would be represented by the House's lawyers, according to aides to Pelosi and committee Chairman John Conyers, D-Mich.

Democrats say Bush's instructions to Miers and Bolten to ignore the Judiciary Committee's subpoenas constituted an abuse of power and an attempt to block an effort to find out whether the White House directed the firing of nine U.S. attorneys in 2006 for political reasons. Republicans call the whole affair a political game.

http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/03/01/MN1KVBOHA.DTL

This article appeared on page A - 3 of the San Francisco Chronicle
© 2008 Hearst Communications Inc.

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