Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Ohhhh-oh, The Guns of Nixon

Bush Warns Dems To Take Offer On Firings
A defiant President Bush warned Democrats Tuesday to accept his offer to have top aides testify about the firings of federal prosecutors only privately and not under oath or risk a constitutional showdown from which he would not back down.

Democrats' response to his proposal was swift and firm: They said they would start authorizing subpoenas as soon as Wednesday for the White House aides.

"Testimony should be on the record and under oath. That's the formula for true accountability," said Patrick Leahy, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.


Bush said his White House counsel, Fred Fielding, told lawmakers they could interview presidential counselor Karl Rove, former White House Counsel Harriet Miers and their deputies - but only on the president's terms: in private, "without the need for an oath" and without a transcript. [emphasis mine]
Does this sound familiar? Vaguely:
April 30: Nixon refuses to hand over the tapes, but provides more edited transcripts to the Judiciary Committee. He appears on national television to announce his decision to release the transcripts. There is public shock at the general tone of the conversations and the foul language used by Nixon and others. The expression "expletive deleted" enters the vocabulary.
A judiciary committee demands access to White House inside information. The Executive refuses, offering instead limited access.

We see two possibilities here:

(1) As with Watergate, the Executive is trying - poorly - to conceal something grievously incriminating. This could be a drastic change for momentum.

(2) As with Iraq, the Executive suspects that the Democrats don't have the stones to push this into a partisan battle, with real blood on the chamber floor. So far Leahy's the only country heard from. Time will tell.

We hope for outcome the first; we fear for outcome the second. Stay tuned.

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