July 2, 2007 in Nation/World

Leahy: Criminal citation possible in Justice fight

Washington Post The Spokesman-Review
 
The Spokesman-Review photo

Leahy
(Full-size photo)

WASHINGTON – The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee said Sunday that he will attempt to cite the White House for criminal contempt of Congress if it does not turn over documents related to the firing of nine federal prosecutors.

“If they don’t cooperate, yes, I’d go that far,” Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Leahy’s comments raise the stakes in a growing conflict between the Democrat-controlled Congress and the Bush White House, suggesting the constitutional clash might end up in a court case that could last beyond Bush’s tenure as president.

Congressional investigators want testimony, internal e-mails and other documents to clarify what role Bush’s senior staff played in the Justice Department’s removal of nine prosecutors last year. The firings have triggered bipartisan calls for Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to resign.

The White House has refused, asserting executive privilege, a claim invoked since George Washington to mean that the separation of powers embodied in the Constitution allows each branch to operate from the control or supervision of the others.

“The bottom line on the U.S. attorneys investigation is that we have people manipulating law enforcement,” Leahy said. “Law enforcement can’t be partisan.”

Get stories like this in a free daily email


Please keep it civil. Don't post comments that are obscene, defamatory, threatening, off-topic, an infringement of copyright or an invasion of privacy. Read our forum standards and community guidelines.

You must be logged in to post comments. Please log in here or click the comment box below for options.

comments powered by Disqus