The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit is giving the Obama administration one week to determine whether to press ahead with President George W. Bush’s claim that his former aides are absolutely immune to congressional subpoenas.
That leaves the Obama administration little time to decide whether to oppose a lower court’s ruling that former White House counsel Harriet Miers and Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten must show up to congressional hearings investigating the firings of nine U.S. Attorneys before asserting executive privilege. The case also implicates former White House adviser Karl Rove. House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, D-Mich., has subpoenad Rove’s testimony in connection with the U.S. Attorney firings and the prosecution of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman.
The Justice Department had asked the court for two additional weeks to state its position in the case, but the court issued an order Thursday requiring the Justice Department to file its opening brief by Feb. 25. The Justice Department immediately filed a motion to reconsider, emphasizing the need for more time to negotiate an increasingly complex range of interests.
“The inauguration of a new president has altered the dynamics of this case and created new opportunities for compromise rather than litigation,” wrote acting Assistant Attorney General Michael Hertz. At the same time, there is an additional interested party — the former President — whose views should be considered.”
White House Counsel Gregory Craig, Bush’s lawyer, Emmet Flood, and House General Counsel Irvin Nathan have been in talks that could lead to testimony of Rove and the others, but they appear to be moving haltingly.
Flood, Bush’s lawyer, served as his special counsel. Before leaving office, Bush appointed him to an obscure World Bank agency called the International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes. Flood was a partner at Williams & Connolly prior to his stint at the White House.
First reported in The BLT: The Blog of Legal Times.