A bipartisan group of 20 former U.S. Attorneys is backing the House of Representatives in its legal battle with the Bush administration over subpoena power in the congressional investigation into the firings of nine U.S. Attorneys.
The House filed suit in March challenging President George W. Bush's assertion of executive privilege to shield his chief of staff Joshua Bolten and ex-White House counsel Harriet Miers from supplying Congress with testimony and records related to the firings.
In a 15-page amicus brief filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia last week, the former U.S. Attorneys sidestepped prickly legal arguments about the separation of powers and instead urged Judge John Bates to consider the gravity of the investigation.
"It is a matter of the utmost importance for Congress to conduct a complete investigation to determine whether the White House officials have injected, or attempted to inject, partisan considerations into a process that must be rigorously insulated from such considerations," the brief says.
The group of former U.S. Attorneys comprises seven Republican appointees and 12 Democratic appointees. One of the signatories is former New Mexico U.S. Attorney David Iglesias, who was among those fired in 2006. Another Bush appointee on the brief is Matthew Orwig, who stepped down as U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Texas last year.
The others are: Clinton appointees Alan Bersin, Zach Carter, Edward Dowd, B. Todd Jones, Doug Jones, Donald Stern, and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I.; George H.W. Bush appointee William Braniff; Reagan appointees Dan Webb, who chairs Winston & Strawn, Leon Kellner, and J. Alan Johnson; Carter appointees Roxanne Conlin, James Robinson, Atlee Wampler III, and Edward Warin; Nixon appointee George Beall; Johnson appointee Steve Sachs; and Richard Rossman, who was court appointed in 1980.
Alan Strasser, a partner at Robbins, Russell, Englert, Orseck, Untereiner & Sauber, is representing the group. A former Assistant U.S. Attorney in the District, Strasser says he and two of his colleagues drafted the brief at the firm's office here and circulated it to a list of ex-U.S. Attorneys they had put together with House General Counsel Irv Nathan. More than half agreed to sign it, Strasser estimated. A motions hearing in the case is scheduled for June 23.