Subpoenas for former White House officials

Congress demands testimony from Harriet Miers, Sara Taylor in purge probes.

By Tim Grieve

Published June 13, 2007 3:06PM (EDT)

One day after newly released documents provided more evidence of their involvement in the handling of last year's U.S. attorneys purge, former White House counsel Harriet Miers and former White House political director Sara Taylor have just found themselves on the receiving end of congressional subpoenas.

The Senate Judiciary Committee's subpoena compels Taylor's appearance on July 11. A subpoena from the House Judiciary Committee orders Miers to appear July 12. The subpoenas were approved weeks ago but not issued until today. The Bush administration, which has resisted calls for White House officials to testify voluntarily about the purge, will likely fight the subpoenas with claims of executive privilege.

The House Judiciary Committee has also served a subpoena on White House chief of staff Josh Bolten requiring the White House to produce "complete and unredacted versions" of all documents related to the firing of U.S. attorneys or misrepresentations made to Congress about the purge. Specifically, the subpoena demands the production of documents related to the involvement of Miers, Taylor, deputy White House counsel William Kelley, Karl Rove aide Scott Jennings and Rove himself.

In a statement, House Judiciary Committee chairman John Conyers says: "Let me be clear: This subpoena is not a request, it is a demand on behalf of the American people for the White House to make available the documents and individuals we are requesting to help us answer the questions that remain. The breadcrumbs in this investigation have always led to 1600 Pennsylvania [Ave]."

Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Patrick Leahy says that in refusing to make witnesses available for sworn and transcribed testimony, the White House is trying to have it both ways. "It cannot stonewall congressional investigations by refusing to provide documents and witnesses, while claiming nothing improper occurred," Leahy says. "The involvement of the White House's political operation in this project, including former Political Director Sara Taylor and her boss Karl Rove, has been confirmed by information gathered by congressional committees. Some at the White House may hope to thwart our constitutional oversight efforts by locking the doors and closing the curtains, but we will keep asking until we get to the truth."

Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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