AP reports that the Justice Department has reminded Nancy Pelosi that the Executive Branch of the US Government has the ability to decline to enforce Congressional edicts which overstep the bounds of the separation of powers.
The operations of government require that members of the Executive Branch have the ability to discuss policy decision frankly, freely, and in privacy. Cynical Congressional fishing expeditions seeking material for political scandal-mongering over legitimate Executive Branch decisions (like the hiring or firing of US attorneys) ought to be refused cooperation.
Attorney General Michael Mukasey on Friday rejected referring the House’s contempt citations against two of President Bush’s top aides to a federal grand jury. Mukasey says they committed no crime.
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.