Wednesday, June 13, 2007

senate judiciary committee may vote. . .

. . .as early as tomorrow at 10:30 e.d.t.,
to authorize subpoenas on the legal basis for
the administration's warrantless wire-tap
. . .
[see agenda item
no. 1, at the above committee web-link.]

UPDATED: no subpoenas today.
senator kyl (republican!) placed the
one-week hold. so -- next week.

Opening Statement of Senator Patrick Leahy
Chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee

Executive Business Meeting

June 14, 2007

I begin today with a few brief observations before turning to our agenda.

Today is Flag Day. This week the Senate memorialized with a moment of silence our loss of more than 3,500 brave men and women and their families who have given the ultimate sacrifice in the current conflict in Iraq. Last week, this Committee reported Senator Levin’s bill and a House-passed bill that would authorize our Governors and the District to recognize those service men and women we lose by lowering the flag to half staff. I am informed that it has cleared the Democratic side of the aisle for passage. Perhaps the Senate will be allowed to consider and grant final passage to that measure today, Flag Day.

Another matter we reported that did pass the Senate in March and on which the House followed suit was Senator Feinstein’s U.S. Attorney bill. It repeals that portion of the Patriot Act Reauthorization that had allowed the Attorney General to circumvent advice and consent with respect to U.S. Attorneys. That bill, the Preserving United States Attorney Independence Act of 2007, has been on the President’s desk since June 4. It seems he just cannot bring himself to sign it. Instead, we were informed yesterday through the Justice Department that the Attorney General has used the power that we have voted to repeal, again. That is wrong. I urge the President to sign the bill and follow the law.

In that regard, yesterday I issued and served subpoenas to the White House on behalf of this standing Committee of the Senate. They are in connection with our continuing investigation into the firings of United States Attorneys around the country. I have spoken with Mr. Fielding, the new White House Counsel, a number of times in the past week, and I have consulted with our distinguished Ranking Member. Regrettably, to date the White House has not produced a single document nor allowed White House staff to testify despite our repeated requests for voluntary cooperation over the last several months.

The White House’s stonewalling of the congressional investigative committees continues its pattern of confrontation over cooperation. Those who bear the brunt of this approach are the American people. Among those suffering are the dedicated professionals at the Department of Justice who have tried to remain committed to effective law enforcement in spite of the untoward political influences from this Administration. Sadly, the public’s confidence in our justice system has been shaken to its core. That is why we must do everything we can to overcome the Administration’s stonewalling and get the facts out on the table.

The White House cannot have it both ways -- it cannot stonewall congressional investigations by refusing to provide documents and witnesses, and simultaneously claim that nothing improper occurred.

Yesterday we served three subpoenas: two seeking the documents and testimony of Karl Rove’s top deputy, Sara M. Taylor, former Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of Political Affairs, and another seeking White House documents relevant to the panel’s ongoing investigation, which would include the purportedly “lost” e-mails of Mr. Rove.

I had sent a half dozen previous letters to Mr. Fielding during the past three months seeking voluntary cooperation from the White House. It has not been forthcoming. It is apparent from the evidence gathered by the investigating Committees of the Senate and House that White House officials played a significant role in originating, developing, coordinating and implementing the plan to replace this President’s United States Attorneys. There has been no good explanation for those actions.

It has been two and one-half months since Republican and Democratic Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee rejected the White House’s “take it or leave it” offer of off-the-record, backroom interviews with no follow up. Despite our numerous efforts to engage and move forward cooperatively, the White House “stayed the course” and refused to furnish information. Mr. Rove and the President have had no reluctance to comment publicly that there was, in their view, no wrongdoing and nothing improper. Yet, the White House refuses even to share the basis for those denials and assertions with us. Congress and the American people are no longer satisfied with the “just trust us” line from this Administration. The White House’s continued stonewalling leads to the obvious conclusion that the White House has something to hide.

Because the White House has continued its refusal to provide the requested information to the Senate Judiciary Committee on a voluntary basis, I issued our subpoenas. I am disappointed that we have had to turn to subpoenas in order to obtain information needed by this Committee to fulfill its oversight responsibilities. The evidence that White House officials were deeply involved leaves me no choice. The independence of the Department of Justice is too important to be sacrificed but must be restored. . .


now, any republican on the committee may
place a one-week-delay on the issuance, but
given how things are going -- a subpoena or
three will almost certainly issue a week
from tomorrow, if not tomorrow.

probable recipients: alerto gonzales, andrew
card, john ashcroft (in descending order of
likelihood) and anyone else involved in the
march 2004 hospital visit -- so that could
ultimately include both vice president dick
cheney (he blocked patrick philbin's
in retribution for calling the program
unlawful), and the president himself -- as it seems
undisputed that mr. bush personally called to
speak to mrs. ashcroft at the hospital, that day. . .

wow. just wow.

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