Contempt Charges Against Miers and Bolten Sent to Congress

This post, written by Nick Juliano, originally appeared on Raw Story

The House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday formally recommended criminal contempt charges against former White House counsel Harriet Miers and chief of staff Joshua Bolten for their failure to comply with an investigation into the firing of eight US Attorneys.

The charges were presented in a resolution that, if passed by the House as a whole, would initiate criminal proceedings in US District Court for the District of Columbia, although the justice department has said it will not purse the charges because the White House has invoked executive privilege. The House Judiciary Committee voted 22-17 along party lines to send the Democratic measure to the full House.

The hearing also brough harsh denunciations of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, who Democrats accused of obfuscating his own role in the attorney firing scandal.

"They have sent the Attorney General here to lie and to insult us with his lies," said Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y.

Republicans sought to convince members of the majority not to get involved in a prolonged constitutional fight over executive privilege and accused Democrats of pursuing a partisan witch-hunt without basis in facts.

Democrats argued the contempt filing was necessary because of the utter disrespect with which the White House treated members of the committee. There is no legal basis for a witness subpoenaed by Congress to simply refuse to show up for a hearing, as Harriet Miers did when she was called to testify earlier this month.

"We have rolled over with every claim of executive privilege," said Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Fla., who called Miers snub of the committee "beyond the pale."

Judiciary Chairman John Conyers, D-Mich., said the contempt charges were being sought "only as a last resort."

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