February 14, 2008
What Conyers Told the Rules Committee Re Contempt
After Downing Street
February 14, 2008
February 13, 2008 — (Washington, DC) – Today, House Judiciary Committee chairman testified before the House Committee on Rules in support of statutory contempt and civil litigating authority resolutions against former White House Counsel Harriet Miers and White House Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten. The full text of his statement is below:
Madam Chairwoman, Ranking Member Drier, members of the committee, thank you for this opportunity to testify on two related resolutions: 1) H. Res. 979, the Judiciary Committee’s resolution recommending that the House find White House Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten and former White House Counsel Harriet Miers in contempt of Congress for refusing to comply with subpoenas duly issued by the committee, and 2) H. Res. 980, a privileged resolution I introduced today authorizing the committee to initiate or intervene in civil judicial proceedings to enforce those subpoenas.
Democrats Pass Contempt, Republicans Leave the Room
The Corpse Wiggles: Live Blogging Congress (Six Months Late) Voting on Contempt for Two of the Many
By David Swanson
After Downing Street
I know a lot of you may hold Congress in contempt, but on Thursday Congress voted to hold someone else in contempt. Here’s what happened:
10:07 Rep. Earl Blumenauer is denouncing Bush-Cheney proposal to slash funding for public broadcasting, which he says will deny public broadcasting to rural areas.
10:08 Rep. Kay Granger is pushing for quick passage of the bill to grant immunity to corporate criminals and a White House that engage in unconstitutional and illegal spying.
10:10 A Congressman C-Span does not identify says more people are killed by gun violence in the US than in Iraq.
10:12 Rep. Peter Hoekstra says BE AFRAID of Islamofascists NOW!! And quickly pass a bill to grant immunity to corporate criminals and a White House that engage in unconstitutional and illegal spying.
10:13 A Congressman C-Span does not identify is talking about deaths (90,000 per year) from infections in hospitals.
10:14 Rep Ted Poe says BE AFRAID OF ORGANIZED MEXICAN ILLEGAL TERRORIST KIDNAPPERS!! (C-span always identifies these Republican screamers.)
10:15 Rep ? says we MUST TODAY quickly pass the Senate bill to grant immunity to corporate criminals and a White House that engage in unconstitutional and illegal spying.
10:16 Rep ? says BE AFRAID OF RADICAL TERRORISTS and quickly pass the Senate bill to grant immunity to corporate criminals and a White House that engage in unconstitutional and illegal spying.
11:17 We’re back to the Lantos service where Bono is singing “All You Need Is Love.”
Bono Remembers the Honorable Tom Lantos
Bono sings “All You Need Is Love” at a memorial in the US Capitol for Chairman Tom Lantos, who passed away on Monday. Bono sings the song on behalf of Tom for his wife and partner in the pursuit of peace and justice, Annette Lantos.
12:01 After six months and all morning, the House will now debate for 1 hour the two resolutions, one to hold Miers and Bolten in contempt, the other to authorize the Judiciary Committee to go to court in an attempt to enforce the contempt citations (without of course using the only appropriate measure available, namely impeachment of the president).
Louise Slaughter opens the debate with concern for precedent for future presidents. She makes clear this is about the president and bogus claims of executive privilege. She also addresses fear of losing in the courts by suggesting that if that occurs, Congress can pass a law to fix the process. That’s actually debatable, I think, and not just because Bush would veto or signing-statement or ignore any such fix.
Rep. Slaughter – Contempt for Miers and Bolten
The House debates H.Res. 982, which provides for the adoption of H.Res. 979, recommending that the House of Representatives find Harriet Miers, former White House Counsel, and Joshua Bolten, the White House Chief of Staff, in contempt of Congress for refusal to comply with subpoenas issued by the Judiciary Committee. These subpoenas were issued as part of the Committee’s investigation into the firings of a number of United States Attorneys and matters concerning the politicization of the Justice Department. This resolution also provides for adoption of H.Res. 980 – Authorizing the Committee on the Judiciary to initiate or intervene in judicial proceedings to enforce certain subpoenas. Rep. Louise Slaughter speaks in favor.
12:06 Rep Diaz-Balart is whining about having to leave Lantos’ funeral early.
12:07 Now he’s complaining that no debate is being allowed on each contempt resolution (other than the debate on the “Rule” that he is now engaged in and wasting his alloted time in). He’s right that the House should debate each contempt citation. The Democrats always, ALWAYS back away from a fight.
12:09 Bizarrely Diaz-Balart argues against contempt because it could lose in court and that would shift power from Congress to the White House. (And what would refusing to try accomplish other than the same result?)
12:11 Diaz-Ballart also wants to know why this is now an emergency after 8 months, and is shifting the topic (despite his whining about not getting a chance to debate) to the urgent need to grant retroactive immunity to violators of FISA and the 4th Amendment. He’s going on and on, failing to debate what he complains he has no opportunity to debate. This sort of transparent bluff ALWAYS fools the Democrats. This is bad news for today’s vote.
12:14 John Conyers submits into the record today’s New York Times editorial. He says he’s negotiated for 8 months. He doesn’t say that negotiation has been with Pelosi. He says this is about whether the American public can trust that its laws are impartially enforced by the US Justice Department. Some, Conyers says, think the stakes are so high that Congress should not risk losing. But, says Conyers, if we countenance a process where our subpoenas can be ignored, then we’ve already lost. (Of course that loss is assured by Conyers’ refusal to begin impeachment. Conyers also encourages Republicans who claim to be concerned about the powers of Congress to contact the White House Counsel’s office, which – Conyers says – only offered him a process with no on-the-record testimony.
Conyers on Contempt of Congress Vote
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