Nearly two weeks ago, in the midst of claiming executive privilege on documents relating to the U.S. Attorney purge, the Bush White House also told Congress that lawmakers would not be permitted
to see documents relating to former political director Sara Taylor's work on the matter. It was obviously disappointing (though not unexpected), especially given the Bush gang's rhetoric about their willingness to cooperate.
But at least Taylor agreed to honor a subpoena and will testify to the Senate Judiciary Committee about what she knows of the scandal, right? Wrong. Her appearance, which was scheduled for Wednesday, is now off
-- Taylor's lawyer doesn't think the White House is willing to let her talk the committee.
From the letter Taylor's attorney delivered to Senate Judiciary Chairman Pat Leahy:
Ms. Taylor expects to receive a letter from [White House Counsel Fred] Fielding on behalf of the President directing her not to comply with the Senateâs subpoena. These contrary directions undoubtedly create a monumental clash between the executive and legislative branches of government. This clash may ultimately be resolved by the judicial branch. [...]
Absent the direction from the White House, Ms. Taylor would testify without hesitation before the Senate Judiciary Committee. She has participated in no wrongdoing. She will assert no personal privileges.
[Taylor] faces two untenable choices. She can follow the Presidentâs direction and face the possibility of a contempt sanction by the Senate, with enforcement through the criminal courts, an action that regardless of the outcome, will follow her for life. Or, she can attempt to work out an accommodation with the Senate, which will put her at odds with the President, a person whom she admires and for whom she has worked tirelessly for years.
Chairman Leahy responded, "The White House continues to try to have it both ways -- to block Congress from talking with witnesses and accessing documents and other evidence while saying nothing improper occurred."
If I didn't know better, I might get the impression that the White House has something to hide.