The parties in the landmark subpoena fight between the House of Representatives and the White House are trying to make nice outside the courtroom, according to a status report filed Friday.
Last month, Judge John Bates of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled that President George W. Bush's top aides are not immune from congressional subpoenas. Bates said that Bush's former legal counsel, Harriet Miers, must appear before Congress to give testimony related to the U.S. Attorney firings. If she wants to assert executive privilege, she must do so in person, Bates ruled.
The Bush administration has asked Bates to stay his decision pending an appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. The House has demanded that the White House comply with the ruling immediately.
Friday, Justice Department lawyers told Bates that "the parties have recommenced discussions to determine whether a negotiated resolution may obviate the need for continued litigation." The parties have met twice since Bates' July 31 ruling, the report says.
The Justice Department argues that a stay would give the House incentive to come to the negotiating table, and it warned Bates that if the motion weren't decided by this week, "defendants will face the choice of either running the risk of being in violation of the Court's Order of July 31 by declining the Committee's demands, or complying with those demands and likely losing their ability to pursue a meaningful appeal."
First reported in The BLT: The Blog of Legal Times