Another chance for Watergate to haunt Bush

President George W. Bush’s failed Presidency is often compared to another Republican President who fell from grace — Richard M. Nixon.

Bush’s choice of former Nixon deputy White House Counsel Fred Fielding as his new top lawyer only fuels such comparisons.

The announcement will be made Tuesday, according to a Bush administration official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the appointment had not been made.

Fielding will become Bush’s counsel just as newly empowered Democrats in Congress plan deeper scrutiny of the administration. From the Iraq war to environmental policy and secret surveillance, the Democrats who now control both the House and Senate are armed with subpoena power and ready to summon panels of witnesses.

Fielding, a longtime Washington lawyer, will replace Harriet Miers, Bush’s failed Supreme Court nominee and longtime adviser. She submitted her resignation Thursday after six years in the White House, and it will take effect Jan. 31.

Fielding served as President Reagan’s counsel from 1981 to 1986, where one of his assistants was John Roberts, now the chief justice of the Supreme Court. Under President Nixon, Fielding served as deputy White House counsel from 1972 to 1974 and associate counsel from 1970 to 1972.

More recently, he served on the bipartisan panel that investigated the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Fielding is a partner at the firm of Wiley, Rein and Fielding.

He is known as an expert in business litigation and government relations law, representing corporations in high profile regulatory investigations by the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Justice Department and others.

“As soon as I heard they were looking for someone with a great investigation background, Fred Fielding was the only one I thought of,” said Sheila Tate, a public relations executive who worked in the Reagan administration.

Ron Kaufman, who served in the administrations of Reagan and Bush’s father, said he was not surprised that Fielding would take the job.

“Guys like him can’t say no to a president,” Kaufman said.

Fielding’s appointment was first reported Monday by Time magazine on its Web site.

(Includes information from The Associated Press)