Taylor to Miers to Chance

So much for former White House political director Sara Taylor taking a stand for the truth. So much for her choosing to be courageous and honorable instead of just another self-serving weasel the Bush administration trots up to Capitol Hill to say nothing about nobody involved in the U.S. attorney scandal. And so much for former White House counsel Harriet Miers ever again seeing the light of day.

Taylor's brief (and for the most part meaningless) attempts at candor before the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday helped doom any chance of seeing Miers skulk behind an overinflated notion of "executive privilege" asserted by her longtime patron, President Bush. Turns out Miers isn't even going to bother to perform before the House Judiciary Committee the same kabuki dance that Taylor did for the Senate committee. The once-upon-a-time Supreme Court nominiee is going to pretend instead that the White House's "request" that she not testify is really an order with the force of law.

Thus we are no closer today than we were yesterday to finding out who came up with the list of prosecutors to be purged -- and we will be no closer tomorrow, or next week, or probably even next month. But we may soon learn whether Congress is indignant enough about the way the White House is acting to try to do something about it through the federal courts. If members of Conggress ever want to challenge executive privilege -- ever want to get another court ruling that defines its limitations -- this is their moment. Will they seize it? Dunno. I long ago lowered my expectations of the mettle of the elected officials who inhabit the Capitol.

The cable networks, newspapers and wire services were quick to headline Taylor's day before the committee by telling us that she said she never spoke to the president about the U.S. attorney matter. This is interesting, I suppose, but hardly meaningful.

We still don't know whether Taylor talked to Karl Rove about the U.S. attorneys and whether he then talked to the president. It doesn't tell us who came up with the list of prosecutors to be purged, and it certainly doesn't tell us which of the stories the attorney general has offered in his own defense is closest to the truth. Let's not kid ourselves. Taylor didn't waive the attorney client privilege or give away any castle secrets Wednesday.

By Andrew Cohen |  July 11, 2007; 8:53 PM ET agag
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I pledge allegiance to the president and the label pin for which he stands. One divided nation where Dear Leader speaks with God. With liberty and justice for republicans. Screw everyone else. So help me, Bush.

Posted by: A N Other | July 12, 2007 09:23 AM

andrew in a future column could you please address the issue of presidential power to pardon criminals and commute sentences? why in the world does the executive branch get this godlike power? it seems antithetical to a democratic system.

Posted by: billy | July 12, 2007 10:11 AM

Speaking of self-serving weasels, have you taken a close look at your style of "journalism". Somehow, you apparently do not grasp the implications of these words:

"Leave the President free to choose his own coadjutors, to pursue his own measures, and support him and them, even if we think we are wiser than they, honester than they are, or possessing more enlarged information of the state of things." (Thomas Jefferson, 1811)

Even more to the point is this blunt Jeffersonian summation:

"The latter is most strictly in the spirit of the Constitution, because the President, on weighing the advice of all, is left free to make up an opinion for himself. In this way, they are not brought together, and it is not necessarily known to any what opinion the others have given."

"It is not necessarily known to any what opinion the others have given" certainly applies to the operation of the Exectuive and all officials who serve at the pleasure of the Executive can be removed even if the cause for removal extends to the wearing of a tux at a barbecue!

So all of this hand-wringing is more than hypocritical and akin to the baleful politics of the Mass...certainly those expressing outrage over EP were hardly hesitant in spouting privilege when a certain Congressmember was caught with his hands in the cookie jar.

Posted by: | July 12, 2007 10:34 AM

PS: The above commentary was posted absebt my signature. The above is mine.

Posted by: Diego Rivero | July 12, 2007 10:38 AM

PS: The above commentary was posted absebt my signature. The above is mine.

Posted by: Diego Rivero | July 12, 2007 10:38 AM

PS: The above commentary was posted absebt my signature. The above is mine.

Posted by: Diego Rivero | July 12, 2007 10:39 AM

Sounds like the prez has taken Skull and Bones to the White House. Do you think that, when they slit their hands, they shook so that their blood co-mingled?

Posted by: denisestro | July 12, 2007 10:41 AM

Shameful. Simply un-Amercan. But beyond that, idiotic.
Executive privilege is an extra-constitutional fiction while the subpoena power of Congress is clearly spelled out. Why do the experts maintain that a constitutional crisis is involved whenever these two concepts clash?
There is no hint of a mention of such a privilege in the U.S. constitution. Yet we all know that a justice system poisoned by years of Bush appointees would rule in his favor. A less favorable SCOTUS did, after all, make him President in the first place.

Posted by: Shannon | July 12, 2007 10:45 AM

Is there anything good about American Government? The Executive branch is corrupt, the Judicial branch is corrupt and the Legislative branch is corrupt and without any guts. And the citizenry, red and blue, is at Walmart instead of at the gates with torches.
Help me here, because if there is something good I have to report it to God before he starts the rains.....again.

Posted by: Noah | July 12, 2007 10:59 AM

Why is everyone dancing around the explicit criminality of this administration? I know that this missive may have me coming off as a conspiracy nut. But sometimes a conspiracy IS A CONSPIRACY. Not some half-cocked, dreamed up theory.

To the Congress: YOU were SWORN to UPHOLD the CONSTITUTION. History may be in the rough draft stage for Mr. Bush. But there is a bookmark for you too. Show the courage of our forefathers. DEFEND THIS COUNTRY AND THIS CONSTITUTION FROM ALL ENEMIES...foreign...AND...DOMESTIC.

Posted by: Kevin | July 12, 2007 11:04 AM

Noah,

I think GOD is going with fire the next time around.

Posted by: Kevin | July 12, 2007 11:06 AM

Diego Rivera--I don't see Jefferson saying he can fire U.S. Attorneys for then any reason, and then obstruct an investigation into the reasons for the firing.

In reference to his invocation of executive privilege in reference to the Burr's treason trial, the irony here is that he complied with the defendant's and judges request that he provide Wilkinson's letters.

Since that time Executive privilege has been rightly recognized as a limited right. It is not an instrument that the president can use to put himself above the law, and to protect both himself and his subordinates from legal jeopardy--as this president quite possibly has.

Posted by: JP2 | July 12, 2007 11:08 AM

Crime Pays, for the loyal Bushies.

Posted by: Burglarized in the USA | July 12, 2007 11:09 AM

A 32-year-old who has worked for the same people for eight years as a political operative is not a good candidate for profile in courage status.

Campaign politics have come to dominate the business of government so thoroughly that many people have lost sight of the differences between the requirements of a good campaign operative and a competent government official. A good campaign operative needs to be completely loyal, able to work long hours, and attentive to every whim of his or her boss. Very young people often possess these qualities.

People entrusted with positions of responsibility in government require good judgment, knowledge of and devotion to the laws and rules that govern the exercise of their official duties, and professional rather than personal loyalty to the people they report to. These are much more difficult requirements for very junior employees to have -- they haven't been around long enough to develop the necessary qualities, and moreover in this administration usually came up through the Bush campaign machinery anyway.

Is there any reason to think Sara Taylor wouldn't do everything her former bosses in the White House directed her to do? None at all. Her decision to participate in the White House's stonewalling in the US Attorneys matter is less important than the fact that someone of her extremely limited background exercised any responsibility at all in the White House for as long as she did.

Posted by: Zathras | July 12, 2007 11:26 AM

This executive privilege claim is transparently designed to divert Congress into a protracted legal process, which serves no purpose other than delay. Justice delayed is justice denied. There is more than sufficient circumstantial evidence of various criminal acts (perjury, obstruction, contempt of Congress, illegal wiretapping, etc.) to merit beginning an impeachment inquiry, with respect to GWB, as well as Cheney, Rove, and Gonzales, among others. An impeachment inquiry would permit the subpoena of records of Fitzgerald's investigatory findings and secret grand jury testimony, as well as waiver of all executive privilege claims. If there is no evidence of wrongdoing, it would help the administration by resolving the questions. If evidence of criminal acts is discovered, an impeachment resolution and trial may proceed, as provided by the US Constitution.

Posted by: Evan | July 12, 2007 11:28 AM

Is it me or are others wondering how these poeple got into such high positions within our government. How many of these "advisors" actually have experience outside of working either with/for George Bush or Karl Rove? How can we be led by people who have only followed the guidelines of giving George Bush answers he wants to hear? This cannot be the best and brightest who are running our country...

Posted by: ed barrett | July 12, 2007 11:53 AM

To think that this person was once considered for the supreme court. Unbelievable.

I second Evan's comment that an impeachment inquiry should be started immediately. Maybe nothing would be found (unlikely), but much of this proceedural gamesmanship would be behind us.

Getting at the truth is too important for shuffling half-measures.

Posted by: wrb | July 12, 2007 11:57 AM

republicans are "soft on crime" and believe to be "above the law"---hypocrites leveled these same charges at Democrats when it was unfounded. Now, we know what it really means to be "soft on crime" and "above the law". Thanks GOP for showing us what corruption really is!

Posted by: marie | July 12, 2007 12:11 PM

republicans are "soft on crime" and believe to be "above the law"---hypocrites leveled these same charges at Democrats when it was unfounded. Now, we know what it really means to be "soft on crime" and "above the law". Thanks GOP for showing us what corruption really is!

Posted by: marie | July 12, 2007 12:11 PM

This is just another instance, in a long list of crimes, where the Bush admin places itself above the law, while lecturing others about the rule of law. The GOP's backing of these scandalous hypocrites is unfortunate.

Posted by: Samson- | July 12, 2007 12:12 PM

I posted this awhile back but it seems that it is time for a refresher

"The breadth of a jurisdictional committee's investigative authority may be seen in the two seminal Supreme Court decisions emanating from the Teapot Dome inquiries of the mid- 1920's. As part of its investigation, the Senate select committee issued a subpoena for the testimony of Mally S. Daugherty, the brother of the Attorney General. After Daugherty failed to respond to the subpoena, the Senate sent its Deputy Sergeant at Arms to take him into custody and bring him before the Senate. Daugherty petitioned in federal court for a writ of habeas corpus arguing that the Senate in its investigation had exceeded its constitutional powers. The case ultimately reached the Supreme Court, where, in a landmark decision, McGrain v. Daugherty,8 the Court upheld the Senate's authority to investigate these charges concerning the Department:

'[T]he subject to be investigated was the administration of the
Department of Justice - whether its functions were being properly discharged or were being neglected or misdirected, and particularly whether the Attorney General and his assistants were performing or neglecting their duties in respect of the institution and prosecution of proceedings to punish crimes and enforce appropriate remedies against
the wrongdoers - specific instances of alleged neglect being recited. Plainly the subject was one on which legislation could be had and would be materially aided by the information which the investigation was calculated to elicit. This becomes manifest when it is reflected that the functions of the Department of Justice, the powers and duties of the
Attorney General and the duties of his assistants, are all subject to congressional legislation, and that the department is maintained and its activities are carried on under such appropriations as in the judgment of Congress are needed from year to year.9″

The Court thus underlined that the Department of Justice, like all other executive
departments and agencies, is a creature of the Congress and subject to its plenary legislative
and oversight authority.

http://grassley.senate.gov/rel.....820061.pdf

Posted by: wrb | July 12, 2007 12:16 PM

I posted this awhile back but it seems that it is time for a refresher

"The breadth of a jurisdictional committee's investigative authority may be seen in the two seminal Supreme Court decisions emanating from the Teapot Dome inquiries of the mid- 1920's. As part of its investigation, the Senate select committee issued a subpoena for the testimony of Mally S. Daugherty, the brother of the Attorney General. After Daugherty failed to respond to the subpoena, the Senate sent its Deputy Sergeant at Arms to take him into custody and bring him before the Senate. Daugherty petitioned in federal court for a writ of habeas corpus arguing that the Senate in its investigation had exceeded its constitutional powers. The case ultimately reached the Supreme Court, where, in a landmark decision, McGrain v. Daugherty,8 the Court upheld the Senate's authority to investigate these charges concerning the Department:

'[T]he subject to be investigated was the administration of the
Department of Justice - whether its functions were being properly discharged or were being neglected or misdirected, and particularly whether the Attorney General and his assistants were performing or neglecting their duties in respect of the institution and prosecution of proceedings to punish crimes and enforce appropriate remedies against
the wrongdoers - specific instances of alleged neglect being recited. Plainly the subject was one on which legislation could be had and would be materially aided by the information which the investigation was calculated to elicit. This becomes manifest when it is reflected that the functions of the Department of Justice, the powers and duties of the
Attorney General and the duties of his assistants, are all subject to congressional legislation, and that the department is maintained and its activities are carried on under such appropriations as in the judgment of Congress are needed from year to year.9″

The Court thus underlined that the Department of Justice, like all other executive
departments and agencies, is a creature of the Congress and subject to its plenary legislative
and oversight authority.

http://grassley.senate.gov/rel.....820061.pdf

Posted by: wrb | July 12, 2007 12:16 PM

don't want to beat a dead horse, but if the US attorneys serve at the president's pleasure, then why are his aides saying he had nothing to do with the firings? Was it his pleasure for them to stay or to go? IF not him, then who did it? Who is really running the show? We have a right to know! Claim of Executive privilege is a non-sequitur

Posted by: marie | July 12, 2007 12:16 PM

As other commentators have written, the strategy of Congressional Democrats seems to be to spend the next 15 months giving the Bush Administration every opportunity to torpedo the Republican Party in the November 2008 election. An attempt to impeach senior Bush Administration officials would lead to a backlash that would help Republican candidates in November 2008.

I fervently hope that when -- not if -- the Democrats gain the White House and a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate in 2008 that they undertake criminal investigations against all Bush administration officials suspected of committing, covering up, or refusing to divulge, felonies and misdemeanors. I advocate use of the RICO statue whenever possible to aid such an investigation. Finally, I hope that when -- not if -- Bush administration officials are convicted, their penalties are the strongest possible under federal sentencing guidelines.

Posted by: Huey Looey Dewey | July 12, 2007 12:18 PM

I do not have the legal knowledge of the others who have so elequently commented, but I do have an opinion. I believe it is the duty of Congress to file a contempt of Congress, if for no other reason than it was provided for in the Constitution as part of the tools necessary to perform the checks and balances between the three branches of our government.

Posted by: Janet | July 12, 2007 12:20 PM

To Diego Rivera:

When you said:

"So all of this hand-wringing is more than hypocritical and akin to the baleful politics of the Mass...certainly those expressing outrage over EP were hardly hesitant in spouting privilege when a certain Congressmember was caught with his hands in the cookie jar"

I assume you were referring to Denny Hastert. I happen to think that Hastert was right in characterizing Gonzales's raid on Jefferson's congressional office as heavy-handed and unnecessary. I think that the reason it took so long to get an indictment against Jefferson was in large part due to this ill-advised raid. There was plenty of damning evidence against Jefferson without fomenting a Constitutional crisis. Now Jefferson has to face the music, as he should.

Tell me, when do you think the people in the U.S. Attorney conspiracy will held accountable?

Posted by: Nellie | July 12, 2007 12:24 PM

How in the world can one assert that nothing improper happened while refusing to answer the simplest questions???? It boggles the mind!

Posted by: Barbara | July 12, 2007 12:31 PM

Did you notice how pretty Ms. Taylor looked when you could only see her eyes, while sucking on a bottle of water, but how hard she looked when you could see her entire face and hear her speak? No compassion there at all--a mirror of the entire Republican party.

Posted by: Buchanan | July 12, 2007 12:38 PM

Queensryche - Revolution Calling

Posted by: ooblio | July 12, 2007 12:51 PM

I have to agree with Evan above. Just suppose there was indisputable evidence that Bush-Cheney-Rove sat around the White House and produced a list of attorneys to fire with the expressed intent of increasing partisan prosecutions. What then? Either you move for impeachment or do nothing. Why waste this time huffing and puffing about who knew what when? I think everyone knows how morally bankrupt this administration is. The time has come to either pursue action or let it go. I doubt,however, that Congress has the stuff to do either.

Posted by: Bill | July 12, 2007 12:53 PM

So, Sara Taylor, sleeping with Rove?

Posted by: Rocco | July 12, 2007 01:14 PM

I would be amazed if Congress shows any backbone or cajones at all; they haven't when it most mattered during this administration.

Posted by: Do | July 12, 2007 01:18 PM

ooblio, Saturation Bombing (I needn't reference the album)

Posted by: | July 12, 2007 01:19 PM

Didn't you know. Rove is gay.

Posted by: | July 12, 2007 01:23 PM

Diego, what? What are the context(s) for these quotes?

Posted by: Fernando Rivera | July 12, 2007 01:23 PM

And the point of what wrb wrote is also an unambiguous conclusion I got from reading through the Constitution.

Posted by: | July 12, 2007 01:26 PM

Affluent 60's Yale adolescents slit their hands? Really? Don't know, just surprised.

Posted by: | July 12, 2007 01:31 PM

Not unbelievable (as far as the Supreme Court); now ANYONE one feels like is qualified if they can be an actor.

Posted by: DT | July 12, 2007 01:33 PM

wrb:

Not unbelievable (as far as the Supreme Court); now ANYONE one feels like is qualified if they can be an actor.

Posted by: DT | July 12, 2007 01:33 PM

To pick a nit, Shannon, I'd say emphatically that shamefulness goes much beyond merely being idiotic. I'd MUCH prefer the latter, if it were well-intentioned.

Posted by: CC | July 12, 2007 01:36 PM

Referencing the blood oath was done to both illustrate the blind loyalty these people have, as I'm sure you noted. Seriously, though, isn't that loyalty misplaced? And, truly, undeserving?

Posted by: denisestro | July 12, 2007 02:46 PM

........... blind loyalty and the catatrophic lengths to which they will go to cover up their ill-conceived plans.

Posted by: denisestro | July 12, 2007 03:16 PM

Of course, of course to what you said. But I was actually asking seriously: I don't claim to know everything possible, and you never know.

Posted by: Anon2 | July 12, 2007 03:27 PM

Denise: Of course, of course to what you said. But I was actually asking seriously: I don't claim to know everything possible, and you never know.

Posted by: Anon2 | July 12, 2007 03:28 PM

Anon2--- sadly, lmao!!

Posted by: denisestro | July 12, 2007 04:40 PM

Sadly, that it's actually believable( and it truly is!), not that you posed the question. It was a very astute observation!

Posted by: denisestro | July 12, 2007 04:48 PM

Noah, unfortunately this same God started a tsunami against the indisputably less culpable and amply chastised (by natural disasters to begin with) Southeast Asians, so I'd bet the house there's no one up there.

Posted by: V | July 13, 2007 12:48 PM

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