Michael Mukasey. Official photo.
U.S. Attorney General Refuses Congressional Contempt Citations
U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey refused to refer two contempt citations from the United States House of Representatives to a Grand Jury for their consideration of criminal charges, saying a current and former aide to President Bush had done nothing illegal.
Associated PressLet's review.
Mukasey said White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten and former presidential counsel Harriet Miers were right in refusing to provide Congress White House documents or testify about the firings of federal prosecutors.
"The department will not bring the congressional contempt citations before a grand jury or take any other action to prosecute Mr. Bolten or Ms. Miers," Mukasey wrote House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
The House voted two weeks ago to cite Bolten and Mukasey for contempt of Congress and seek a grand jury investigation. Most Republicans boycotted the vote.
Pelosi requested the grand jury investigation on Thursday and gave Mukasey a week to reply. She said the House would file a civil suit seeking seeking enforcment of the contempt citations if federal prosecutors declined to seek misdemeanor charges against Bolten and Miers.
Mukassey took only a day to get back to her. But he had earlier joined his predecessor, Alberto Gonzales, in telling lawmakers they would refuse to refer any contempt citations to prosecutors because Bolten and Miers were acting at Bush's instruction.
Here is Speaker Pelosi's letter to Mukassey.
Speaker Nancy PelosiThe Attorney General didn't take a week to get back to the Speaker.
Pelosi Letter to Attorney General Mukasey on Contempt Citations of Miers and Bolten
– Today, Speaker Nancy Pelosi sent the following letter to U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey, informing him of the enclosed referral letter sent to U.S. Attorney of the District of Columbia Jeffrey Taylor on contempt citations of former White House Counsel Harriet Miers and White House Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten. Washington, D.C. is required by law to bring the matter before a grand jury. However, Mukasey has indicated that the Justice Department intends to prevent Taylor from complying with the law. Taylor
“There is no authority by which persons may wholly ignore a subpoena and fail to appear as directed because a President unilaterally instructs them to do so. Even if a subpoenaed witness intends to assert a privilege in response to questions, the witness is not at liberty to disregard the subpoena and fail to appear at the required time and place. Surely, your Department would not tolerate that type of action if the witness were subpoenaed to a federal grand jury,” she wrote…”I strongly urge you to reconsider your position and to ensure that our nation is operating under the rule of law and not at presidential whim.”
Two weeks ago, the House passed H.R. 979, which holds Miers and Bolten in contempt of their subpoenas.
Below is a text of the letter sent to Attorney General Michael Mukasey and the referral letter sent to U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Taylor:
February 28, 2008
The Honorable Michael B. Mukasey
The Attorney General
Department of Justice U.S. 950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W 20530-0001 Washington, D.C.
Dear Mr. Attorney General:
In accordance with 2 U.S.C. § 194 and the attached House Resolution 979 (adopted on February 14, 2008), I have today sent a certification to the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia, Jeffrey Taylor, advising him of the failure of former White House Counsel, Harriet Miers, to appear, testify and produce documents in compliance with a duly issued subpoena of a subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee and of the failure of Joshua Bolten, White House Chief of Staff and custodian of White House documents, to produce documents in his custody as required by a duly issued subpoena of the House Judiciary Committee.
Under section 194, Mr. Taylor is now required “to bring the matter before the grand jury for its action.” The appropriate grand jury action is a criminal charge for violation of 2 U.S.C. § 192, which provides: “Every person who having been summoned as a witness by the authority of either House of Congress to give testimony or to produce papers . . . willfully makes default . . . shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor” and shall be subject to a fine and “imprisonment in a common jail for not less than one month nor more than twelve months.”
According to the testimony of your predecessor, former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, and your recent testimony before the House Judiciary Committee, the Justice Department intends to prevent Mr. Taylor from complying with the statute and enforcing the contempt citations against Ms. Miers and Mr. Bolten. You claimed that “enforcement by way of contempt of a congressional subpoena is not permitted when the President directs a direct adviser of his… not to appear or when he directs any member of the executive not to produce documents.” Hearing on Oversight of the Dep’t of Justice Before the H. Comm. on the Judiciary, 110th Cong. 87-88 (Feb. 7, 2008). You purported to base your view on a “long line of authority,” but cited no court decision that supports this proposition.
There is no authority by which persons may wholly ignore a subpoena and fail to appear as directed because a President unilaterally instructs them to do so. Even if a subpoenaed witness intends to assert a privilege in response to questions, the witness is not at liberty to disregard the subpoena and fail to appear at the required time and place. Surely, your Department would not tolerate that type of action if the witness were subpoenaed to a federal grand jury. Short of a formal assertion of executive privilege, which cannot be made in this case, there is no authority that permits a President to advise anyone to ignore a duly issued congressional subpoena for documents.
Your press spokesman has stated that you will “act promptly” to review this matter and reach a final decision. We will appreciate your acting with appropriate dispatch on this important matter. I strongly urge you to reconsider your position and to ensure that our nation is operating under the rule of law and not at presidential whim. If, however, you intend to persist in preventing Mr. Taylor from carrying out his statutory obligation to present this matter to the grand jury in the
, we respectfully request that you inform us of that decision within one week from today, so that the House may proceed with a civil enforcement suit in federal district court. District of Columbia
Thank your for your prompt consideration and attention to this matter.
Speaker of the House
February 28, 2008
The Honorable Jeffrey A. Taylor
United States Attorney
District of Columbia
The undersigned, The Speaker of the House of Representatives of the United States, pursuant to the attached House Resolution 979, One Hundred Tenth Congress, hereby certifies to you the failure and refusal of Harriet Miers, former White House Counsel, to appear, testify, and furnish certain documents in compliance with a subpoena before a duly constituted subcommittee of the House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary. The undersigned further certifies to you the failure and refusal of Joshua Bolten, White House Chief of Staff, to furnish certain documents in the custody of the White House in compliance with a subpoena before said committee. These failures and refusals are fully shown by the certified copy of the House Report 110-423 of said committee which is also hereto attached.
Witness my hand and seal of the House of Representatives of the United States, at the City of Washington, District of Columbia, this twenty-eighth day of February, 2008.
Speaker of the House of Representatives
LORRAINE C. MILLER
Clerk of the House of Representatives
This is the same Attorney General, whom when he went before the Judiciary Committee of the United States Senate, swore on penalty of perjury he was a good honest law-respecting man, NOT the evil sniveling suck-up ass-kissing torture-loving Constitution-shredding weak man for whom authority matters more than physical truth in the holy tradition of Reverend Father Fra Vincenzo Maculano, O.P., Commissary General of the Holy Office.
The AG's office was a national disgrace. Something, anything, desperately needed to be done.
A nation operates by rule of law or by force, fraud, and resort to power. With all accountability of the Article II Executive being blocked by the Republicans in the Article I Congress, it truly was a national emergency that our federal law enforcement be placed in proper order. The house need to be cleaned.
Michael Mukasey was nominated to replace Alberto Gonzales, whom it was clear to everyone with his "I don't remember," "I can't recall," "I don't recollect," "Huh," "Duh," & “¡No habla ingles! ¡No habla ingles!” had to fucking go.
Plus the ultimate cock-block: License to Lie.
Gonzales was not only done, toast, dangerous, damaged goods, and a goddamn danger to the integrity of the nation, but worse... He was a lousy liar and making everyone look bad.
Gonzales was obviously actively running interference for the lawless Bush administration, helping them commit crimes, failing to order criminal investigations into felonies and patterns of criminal acts. RICO shit if done by anyone other than the Bushes plus their tame prosecutors. Hell, RICO shit anyway, but if the AG's office refuses to do anything you're pretty well hosed, not to mention the possibility of three-letter agencies saying “Howdy.”
Worse, Gonzales appeared to be committing crimes himself: tampering with elections through political influence on Attorneys General, bringing political hit jobs for Karl Rove on sitting Democratic Governors (paging prisoner Siegelman, prisoner Don Siegelman), and felonies for authorizing torture.
Worst of all, Gonzales was a shitty liar and thus liable to bring the whole damn White House down on the Big Enchilada plus Shotgun Guy, if the little fat Tex-Mex fuck wasn't hustled out of town pronto before he could be hauled in front of a Grand Jury, or worse, Congress again. Jesus. His own staff had prepped him but his Congressional testimony was the most unconvincing performance since Barry Bonds denying steroids. Worse.
Gonzales either had to go or find a sidewinder in his mailbox. Which would be a mite conspicuous in D.C. But could be arranged from some folks out of Colorado Springs as a last resort, praise Jesus.
Mukasey was vouched for as a man of the law, a man whom, although partisan, would, he swore before God himself, put the law before the Bush administration.
Except that during the nomination hearings, Mukasey refused to say water boarding was torture. Refused to say water boarding, torture under Geneva to which the United States is a signatory, water boarding, a crime under several Federal laws and the law of every State in the United States, the prospective Attorney General of the United States, under oath, refused to call water boarding torture.
The U.S. Senate confirmed him anyway.
“For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind”. (Hosea 8:7)
Today, the hope for fixing the catastrophe which has been federal law enforcement made his position clear. U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey refused to pass along Congressional contempt citations for two senior Bush aides to a Grand Jury.
(It's Okay If You're A Republican.)
Speaker Pelosi and Chairman Conyers are furious:
Speaker Nancy Pelosi
“By ordering the U.S. Attorney to take no action in response to congressional subpoenas, the Bush Administration is continuing to politicize law enforcement, which undermines public confidence in our criminal justice system.
“Anticipating this response from the Administration, the House has already provided authority for the Judiciary Committee to file a civil enforcement action in federal district court and the House shall do so promptly. The American people demand that we uphold the law. As public officials, we take an oath to uphold the Constitution and protect our system of checks and balances and our civil lawsuit seeks to do just that.”
House Judiciary Committee (Chairman John Conyers, Jr.)There's more, but churn this around, get your stomach bile flowing.
(Washington, DC)- Today, the House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI) reacted to the Justice Department's decision not to present contempt citations against former White House Counsel Harriet Miers and White House Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten to a grand jury, despite a statutory obligation to do so:"Our investigation into the firing of United States Attorneys revealed an administration and a Justice Department that seemed to put politics first, and today’s decision to shelve the contempt process, in violation of a federal statute, shows that the White House will go to any lengths to keep its role in the US Attorney firings hidden. In the face of such extraordinary actions, we have no choice but to proceed with a lawsuit to enforce the committee's subpoenas.”
An Attorney General who swore as a nominee to clean house, refusing.
A Senate who shouldn't have confirmed; water boarding is torture.
And a Speaker of the House with a problem.
More in our next installment -- Rejecting the Rule of Law: Part 2