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Leahy: Bush is "Contemptuous of the Congress"

Patrick Leahy (D-VT), chairman of the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee, ripped into George W. Bush on Monday after receiving a letter from White House Counsel Fred Fielding stating that Senate subpoenas for documents and staff testimony in the Justice Department political firings would be met with silence and a specious claim of executive privilege.

Directly accusing the Bush administration of having something to hide, Leahy took to the Senate floor and said that his committee's efforts at Congressional oversight have been met with "Nixonian stonewalling that reveals this White House’s disdain for our system of checks and balances."

"This is more stonewalling from a White House that believes it can unilaterally control the other co-equal branches of government," said Leahy. "It raises the question: What is the White House trying to hide by refusing to turn over evidence?"

The Judiciary Committee chairman also pointed out that previous statements made by the White House indicated that the firing of U.S. attorneys was handled solely by Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and the Justice Department and that answers for Congress on the issue had to come from Gonzales and his staff -- only to now claim that the investigation should be stymied because of presidential privilege.

"This President and the Attorney General have also from time to time expressed confidence that the Congress would get to the bottom of this as if they did not know the details of what had transpired," said Leahy yesterday. "Are we now to understand from the White House claims of executive privilege that these were decisions made by the President? Is he taking responsibility for this scandal, for the firing of such well-regarded and well performing U.S. attorneys?"

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