Many of us have held members of the Bush administration in contempt for a very long time now, with Karl Rove topping the list.
Yesterday, the Senate Judiciary Committee caught up with the public sentiment and found “former presidential adviser Karl Rove and current White House Chief of Staff Joshua B. Bolten in contempt of Congress yesterday for refusing to testify and to turn over documents in the investigation of the firings of nine U.S. attorneys last year.”
The Senate Judiciary Committee approved contempt citations against Rove and Bolten on a 12 to 7 vote, rejecting the White House position that the work of two of President Bush’s closest advisers is covered by executive privilege.
Earlier this year, the House Judiciary Committee cited Bolten and former White House counsel Harriet E. Miers for contempt. But action by either chamber of Congress is still weeks or months away. Lawmakers and aides said neither house will take up the issue until late January at the earliest.
More than six months ago, the Senate Judiciary Committee requested Rove’s public testimony on the firings of the prosecutors and issued subpoenas for internal White House e-mails, memos and other related documents. As custodian of White House documents, Bolten was cited for his refusal to turn them over.
“White House stonewalling is unilateralism at its worst, and it thwarts accountability. Executive privilege should not be invoked to prevent investigations into wrongdoing,” said Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.).
Two senior Republicans, Sens. Arlen Specter (Pa.) and Charles E. Grassley (Iowa), supported the contempt charges.
We know things never seem to move too swiftly within the halls of Congress… But, hey, what took you guys so long?
The contempt vote came a year after seven of the prosecutors were removed on one day. The firings provoked a furor on Capitol Hill and led to the resignation of former attorney general Alberto R. Gonzales.
The Justice Department’s inspector general and its Office of Professional Responsibility are conducting an internal investigation of the firings and whether Gonzales obstructed congressional probes of the matter.
It’s a start, but don’t look for anything more to happen on this for a while. Democrats will “likely need for 60 votes to cut off a GOP filibuster in the Senate.” Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (Nev.) has said he would “look very favorably” on forcing a roll call vote on the issue after the holiday break.
“We’ll take a look at that when we come back in January,” Reid said.
Personally, I think the entire Bush administration has been in contempt since they usurped the White House in 2000.