Another round in the executive privilege fight

Facing a deadline to comply with subpoenas, former White House counsel Harriet Miers says she will not, and the RNC asks for more time.

Published July 17, 2007 10:11PM (EDT)

Tuesday was another banner day for executive privilege. Responding to subpoenas from the House Judiciary Committee regarding the investigation into the firing of nine U.S. attorneys, an attorney for former White House counsel Harriet Miers informed the committee that Miers will still not comply with a subpoena requiring her to produce documents and appear before the committee, and the Republican National Committee asked for more time to consider whether and how to comply.

In a letter to committee chairman John Conyers, D-Mich., Miers' attorney wrote that his client has been "specifically directed" by President Bush "not to appear, not to produce documents in response to the subpoena, and not to provide testimony."

The attorney representing the RNC -- subpoenaed for e-mails potentially relevant to the investigation, which were sent by White House officials using RNC e-mail accounts, and related data -- wrote in his own letter:

"This morning, the RNC received [a] letter from the Office of White House Counsel instructing the RNC not to produce at this time the documents called for in the subpoena, in order to allow adequate time for the White House Counsel to review the documents in question and make specific determinations regarding the assertion of executive privilege."

Responding to the RNC, Conyers said that as the White House "does not have possession, custody or control of RNC documents ... we do not believe that the White House has any legal right to object to the production of documents from the RNC at this point." Conyers indicated, however, that he would extend the deadline to produce the subpoenaed documents until July 31.

To Miers' privilege claim, Conyers had this response:

"The subcommittee has overruled Ms. Miers' claims of immunity and privilege. Her failure to comply with our subpoena is a serious affront to this committee and our constitutional system of checks and balances. We are carefully planning our next steps."

Conyers also informed White House counsel Fred Fielding today that the committee would meet this Thursday to discuss the claims of executive privilege the White House has made regarding a June subpoena for documents from White House chief of staff Josh Bolten.

"If those objections are overruled," Conyers wrote, "you should be aware that the refusal to produce the documents called for in the subpoena could subject Mr. Bolten to contempt proceedings."

By Julia Dahl

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