Going Fishin’?

by Ryan on March 21, 2007

in Politics

In the latest round of a brewing constitutional crisis, a House committee has authorized subpoena power, should Democrat John Conyers choose, to subpoena Karl Rove, Harriet Miers and whoever else is their political target du jour.  This is not the same as actually issuing a subpoena, but the issue that they are huffing and puffing over is a clear, open-and-shut case on Executive prerogative to fire their employees, including federal prosecutors, who serve at the pleasure President anyway.  In fact, the White House offered interviews to the committee from the very people that they want to see!  Constitutionally, that’s still above and beyond what they have to do!

This is what they thought Joe McCarthy fishing for red herrings was like.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

rightonoz March 23, 2007 at 9:07 pm

have to disagree with you on this.

While the Pres does have the right to hire and fire, there is sufficient suggestion of it being done for vengeance and intimidation rather than any other reason. That demeans the stature of the role and should be investigated.

A reminder. Clinton allowed a number of his staff to testify onder oath without hiding behind Executive Priviledge. Makes GWB look as though he has something to hide when he ALWAYS trots out that line. While you have every right to vigorously support your chosen president, if it were either of the Clintons I’m certain you would be demanding they testify.

Personally, regardless of party I believe that except for absolute security issues they should testify.

We have the same problem down here with state premiers refusing to releaase information that would prove graft and corruption.

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Mike March 24, 2007 at 12:26 am

Sorry Oz.

As an AMerican attorney, I must disagree. The President may fire these executive branch officials for any reason whatsoever. If the Democrats do not like the reasons for the firing, they have the right to criticize the moves on their merits but they do not have the right to investigate anything at all. The constitutional separation of powers is as old as our republic.

That said, the courts have held that the privilege does not apply to cover up a crime, but in this situation, attorneys who can be fired for any reason were fired for reasons of the President’s choosing. No crime. Nothing to investigate.

On the merits, which is a legitimate area for debate, the firings were not done out of vengence. The attorneys were fired for reasons ranging from the failure of one to prosecute illegal immigration violations to another not investigating voter fraud to another not investigating drug violations. The firings were a good thing because the prosecutors were inadequately prosecuting crimes.

However, even if the firings were for an absurd reason, (e.g. the President didn’t like their wardrobe), it would be legal. These firings were not suspicious. They were certainly not illegal. Ryan hit the nail on the head.

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rightonoz March 24, 2007 at 10:22 pm

We’ll agree to disagree on the reasons.

There is open dispute as to the reasons,

The right say several different reasons, the left another.

Remember there were a number of different stories from the WH as events unfolded.

I acknowledge the right to fire, however stand by the point that it STILL appears questionable in the extreme. Open government is all about being held to account – or does the constitution forbid that?

I go back to the point that this administration seems to hide behind Exec Priv more than any recent. Personally I believe that Bush and Cheney have done more harm to the Right than any previous Republican President and VP in my memory.

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Mike March 25, 2007 at 12:30 am

I agree that there are a number of reasons given on both sides. The White House political operation mishandled this (no surprise there). This political ineptitude is inexcusable in a situation like this when the facts are on their side. Just this week, one of the fired prosecutors rejected the Democrats’ assertion that he was fired for prosecuting a Republican. The prosecutor pointed out that he was not. Look at the facts, not the MSM reporting of the “facts.” I think you know the difference though.

Open government is obviously not prohibited by the Constitution, but I’ll overlook the hyperbole. This is not about open government. It is a dispute over a partisan witch hunt. Even if every single allegation was true, there would be nothing illegal or improper. The President may fire the prosecutors, period. They can try to make political hay out of it, but it is not a subject that should be investigated.

That said, there should be no political damage either because there was nothing inappropriate. You claimed that it still seems questionable. How? The White House, however sloppily, gave their reasons. Which specific reasons appear questionable to you?

In terms of executive privilege, this White House has only applied it in the long-established context of the president receiving advice about how to perform executive branch functions. Meeting with a task force in secret to determine the official position of the executive branch is something that can be done in secret. Ditto for something like this. How is the president supposed to receive candid advice without the time-honored privilege?

You mention Bill Clinton but that is a terrible example. Clinton asserted executive privilege to protect himself from being sued in a sexual harassment lawsuit. In fact, he took it all the way to the Supreme Court before his position was unanimously rejected. That is not volunaty Oz. The difference between Clinton and Bush is that the former tried to apply it in a non-governmental context whil the latter is properly invoking the privilege for how it has always been used. It is not a security privilege, it is a separation of powers privilege, one that has applied in this context since the beginning of the Republic.

If it appears that Bush invokes the privilege more so than others, consider that it might be because the Democrats have tried to improperly encroach upon the executive branch’s function more than any political opposition in recent history. Whether its micromanaging war tactics, inventing constitutional provisions while ignoring others or investigating the President for something he can do, the Democrats have obviously failed to even look at the Constitution. That’s why it appears more frequent to you.

One last note, you know as much as anyone that we don’t give Bush a free pass on this site. The Democrats are just wrong on this one. This is not a legal issue. It is a politcal issue, and frankly, the Democrats have nothing to say, otherwise they would have kept it in the political arena.

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