With Democrats warning to subpeona top white house officials (Karl Rove and Harriet Miers among them) and question their involvement with 8 US Attorneys who were fired, President Bush stepped up to the plate for his team and warned them of a potential “constitutional showdown” if they do not accept his offer to speak to his officials privately, and without being sworn under oath.
The President said:
“We will not go along with a partisan fishing expedition aimed at honorable public servants,” he said. “It will be regrettable if they choose to head down the partisan road of issuing subpoenas and demanding show trials when I have agreed to make key White House officials and documents available.”
A NY Times editorial today called the comments “nasty.”
Responding to the President’s comments, Senator Patrick Leahy, Chairman of the Judiciary Committee investigating this matter, is quoted in a NY Times article saying:
“I don’t accept his offer,” “It is not constructive, and it is not helpful to be telling the Senate how to do our investigation or to prejudge its outcome.”
Many pundits and politicians have been calling for Alberto Gonzales to resign in his poor handling of this situation. In a piece for Politico.com, Mike Allen and John Bresnahan, write:
The White House and top GOP officials are bracing for a lengthy battle over executive privilege and the likely resignation of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales in the escalating fight over the firings of eight U.S. attorneys, several key Republicans said Tuesday.
With Democrats demanding public testimony of top White House aides, including Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove, and the White House insisting on private interviews only, the GOP officials said the controversy over the fired prosecutors is likely to intensify and prompt Gonzales to step aside.
Alberto Gonzales’ former chief of staff, Kyle Sampson, has already resigned for his involvement with the situation.
Some people argue President Bush’s statements today signal a strong vote of support for his Attorney General, but with Republican support eroding for Gonzales, whether or not he lives up to his word remains to be seen.