by- Suzie-Q @ 12:28 PM MST
Senator Patrick Leahy said the Bush White House was more reckless in its exercise of executive power than President Richard Nixon Wednesday morning. The statement came as the Senate Judiciary Committee held a tempestuous hearing on the firing of 8 US Attorneys, with Sara Taylor, a former top aide to Karl Rove, as its witness.
“The White House lawyers have resorted to an unprecedented blanket assertion of executive privilege,” Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), the committee’s chairman, said in his opening statement. “I didn’t even hear it during President Nixon’s term.”
He then asked, “What is the White House trying to hide?”
Another Senator criticized the White House for allowing young staffers like Taylor to pay the price for decisions made at more senior levels.
“Karl Rove should be sitting at this table, not you,” said Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL).
Taylor was subpoenaed to appear before the committee in June. On Saturday, her attorney, W. Neil Eggleston, made clear that she would abide by President George W. Bush’s invocation of executive privilege over her testimony, and asked that she not be subjected to an “unseemly tug of war.” Her appearance before the Judiciary Committee was an effort to balance Bush’s move with a Congressional subpoena. A failure to comply with the subpoena could result in the Senate holding her in criminal contempt.
Leahy in his opening statement called for Taylor’s “honest testimony” and gave her a clear warning.
“The White House is contemptuous of the Congress…I urge Ms. Taylor not to follow that contemptuous position and the White House down that path,” the Senator said, appearing to raise the specter of a criminal contempt charge.