Bush White House Refuses To Answer Congressional Subpoenas


Thursday, June 28th 2007, 7:26 am
By: News On 6


WASHINGTON (AP) _ The White House, moving toward a constitutional showdown with Congress, asserted executive privilege Thursday and rejected lawmakers' demands for documents that could shed light on the firings of federal prosecutors.

President Bush's attorney told Congress the White House would not turn over subpoenaed documents for former presidential counsel Harriet Miers and former political director Sara Taylor.

``With respect, it is with much regret that we are forced down this unfortunate path which we sought to avoid by finding grounds for mutual accommodation,'' White House counsel Fred Fielding said in a letter to the chairmen of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees. ``We had hoped this matter could conclude with your committees receiving information in lieu of having to invoke executive privilege. Instead, we are at this conclusion.''

Thursday was the deadline for surrendering the documents. The White House also made clear that Miers and Taylor would not testify next month, as directed by the subpoenas, which were issued June 13. The stalemate could end up with House and Senate contempt citations and a battle in federal court over separation of powers.

In his letter, Fielding said Bush had ``attempted to chart a course of cooperation'' by releasing more than 8,500 pages of documents and sending Gonzales and other senior officials to testify before Congress. The White House also had offered a compromise in which Miers, Taylor, White House political strategist Karl Rove and their deputies would be interviewed by Judiciary Committee aides in closed-door sessions, without transcripts. Democrats Patrick Leahy of Vermont and John Conyers of Michigan, the chairs of the Senate and House Judiciary Committees, have rejected that offer.