Senate Reacts To Court Ruling With New Call For Testimony From Rove And Bolton

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July 31, 2008 6:56 p.m.

Just hours after a federal judge shot down the White House’s claim to sweeping immunity from Congressional oversight, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) fired off a round of letters renewing his demand for testimony from Karl Rove and White House Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten.

The Senate Judiciary Committee chairman sent a letter to White House Counsel Fred Fielding asking whether the two officials will agree to testify in light of today’s ruling against the Bush administration’s blanket claim of executive privilege.

The investigation at issue is the allegedly political firings of eight U.S. attorneys. The Senate committee issued subpoenas in June and July 2007 for Bolton and Rove to testify on Capitol Hill.

“Today’s decision renders the grounds for Mr. Bolten and Mr. Rove’s refusal to comply with the Committee’s subpoenas moot,” Leahy wrote in the letter to Fielding.

Leahy also sent a terse letter to Attorney General Michael Mukasey asking whether he planned to rescind the legal memos based on the theory of blanket executive privileged that the judge dismissed today.

Please advise me by no later than next Thursday, August 7, when you will withdraw the erroneous [Office of Legal Counsel] opinion from Stephen Bradbury relied upon by the White House to justify its non-compliance with congressional subpoenas since that opinion has been repudiated by the court.

In addition, please inform me whether the court’s decision will cause you to re-evaluate your memos and those from [Office of Legal Counsel] in support of overbroad and unsubstantiated executive privilege claims not only in the U.S. Attorneys investigation, but also in other matters, like the claims used to block Congress from investigating warrantless wiretapping, the leak of the name of undercover CIA agent Valerie Plame for political retribution, and White House interference in the Environmental Protection Agency’s decision-making. Which of these do you now intend to withdraw?

Leahy sounds like he’s asking for a complete surrender in this ongoing battle over White House officials’ testimony. But there’s a lot of litigation still to go in this case.

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