BIDEN Backs Contempt Citations for Rove and Bolten
Former Senate Judiciary Chairman Joseph R. Biden, Jr. (D-DE) announced his support today for issuing contempt citations for White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten and former Dep. Chief of Staff Karl Rove for refusing to comply with congressional subpoenas for documents and testimony on the White House's role in the firings of several distinguished U.S. attorneys.
"Executive privilege protects certain communications between the President and his top advisors. It doesn't shield criminal conduct, it can't thwart Congress' constitutional oversight responsibility, and, contrary to the President's belief, it's not an absolute, blanket protection from answering Congress' questions," said Sen. Biden. "Executive privilege can only be invoked in response to specific questions and document requests; subpoenaed witnesses have got to show up and invoke the privilege."
Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee Patrick Leahy (D-VT) recently ruled invalid the President's executive privilege claims with respect to testimony and documents by his chief of staff, Joshua Bolten, and former deputy chief of staff Karl Rove related to the improper firing of several United States Attorneys earlier this year. Bolten and Rove did not appear before the Committee as required by subpoena, and assert executive privilege with respect to specific questions.
The Department of Justice Inspector General is currently investigating whether former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales lied to the Judiciary Committee about the U.S. Attorney firings, and there are serious questions about whether certain prosecutions were politically motivated. The Judiciary Committee's investigation into the U.S. Attorney scandal suggests some level of White House political involvement in the firings.
"Mr. Bolten and Mr. Rove have shown utter contempt for Congress' oversight duties by completely ignoring subpoenas and failing to appear before the Judiciary Committee. We owe the American people a thorough investigation. They deserve to know whether hiring, firing, and prosecutorial decisions in their Justice Department were inappropriately influenced by partisan politics," said Sen. Biden.