The House Judiciary Committee approved a contempt of Congress citation Wednesday against White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten and one-time Counsel Harriet Miers, setting up a constitutional confrontation over the firings of federal prosecutors.
The Justice Department said it would block the citation from prosecution because information Congress is demanding is protected by executive privilege. Democratic Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the House effort was important nonetheless.
The return of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to the Senate Judiciary Committee is in some ways the story of Democratic failure to drum up enough pressure to force President Bush’s hand.
Not so long ago, Republicans as well as Democrats thought they’d seen Gonzales sit before them for the last time as attorney general. There was no way Gonzales could survive the controversy over the prosecutor firings, nor the exposure of other missteps, they said. Certainly he could not resist the widespread calls for his resignation — one, from a Republican — to his face as the proceedings were broadcast live.
Senate Democrats vowed Sunday to press ahead with legislation on pulling US troops from Iraq, despite a major defeat last week in their efforts to pass a bill.
“After May 1 of next year, all American troops should be out of there except those dealing with counterterrorism, training Iraqis and protecting our assets,” top Senate Democrat Harry Reid told CBS television on Sunday.
“Academics and military people say Iraq is in chaos right now,” he continued.
Liberal Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold said Sunday he wants Congress to censure President Bush for his management of the Iraq war and his “assault” against the Constitution.
But Feingold’s own party leader in the Senate showed little interest in the idea. An attempt in 2006 by Feingold to censure Bush over the warrantless spying program attracted only three co-sponsors.
Feingold, a prominent war critic, said he soon plans to offer two censure resolutions — measures that would amount to a formal condemnation of the Republican president.
Senate Republicans are growing increasingly nervous defending the war in Iraq, and Democrats more confident in their attempts to end it.
More than a year before the 2008 elections, it is a political role reversal that bodes ill for President Bush’s war strategy, not to mention his recent statement that Congress’ role should merely be “funding the troops.”
Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, made that clear Friday when he dismissed any suggestion that it could be November before a verdict is possible on the effects of the administration’s current troop increase.
“September is the month we’re looking at,” he said unequivocally.
By now you’d think the lackluster Democratic leadership of Congress would have learned. They may have a majority in the House and Senate but they don’t have either the power or the legislative savvy to defeat the despotic rule of President George W. Bush or his GOP lemmings on the Hill.
This point became all too clear Wednesday as the Republican minority defeated yet another grandstanding attempt by the Democratic majority to change the course of Bush’s failed Iraq war.
The all-night debate, staged by Democrats to showcase “the importance of the issue,” lumbered to a sleep-deprived halt as Democrats fell eight votes short of the 60 needed to even get a vote on whether or not to pull troops out of Iraq.
Senate Democrats staged an all-night debate on the Iraq war in a dramatic attempt to wear down Republicans who refuse to vote to begin to bring troops home by fall.
Republicans responded with a yawn — agreeing to stay around and respond to any votes that might be scheduled around-the-clock but remaining steadfast in their opposition to the Democrats’ anti-war legislation.
“This is nonsense,” said Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska.
Added Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., of his Democratic colleagues: “I bet I can stay up longer than they can.”
Sen. David Vitter on Monday denied having relationships with New Orleans prostitutes, a week after admitting links to a Washington escort service that federal prosecutors allege was a prostitution ring.
Vitter emerged from a week of seclusion by appearing at a news conference in suburban Metairie while holding hands with his wife, Wendy. He denied the New Orleans prostitution allegations and offered no indication that he would resign. He said he planned to fly Monday night to Washington to resume work in the Senate.
Republicans dismissed as political theater a Democratic plan for an all-night session of the Senate to debate President Bush’s military strategy in Iraq amid bipartisan proposals to redeploy U.S. troops.
The round-the-clock debate Tuesday night through Wednesday morning was intended as a way of pressuring Republican senators as well as Bush to act sooner rather than later on a change of course in Iraq.
“How many sleepless nights have our soldiers and their families had?” Sen. Dick Durbin, No. 2 in the Democratic leadership, said Monday.
The thin veneer of civility that masks opposing views on Iraq between Senators vanished Sunday in an angry exchange of words between Democrat James Webb and Republican Lindsey Graham.
In many ways, the heated exchange between the two symbolized the voter anger over President George W. Bush’s war. Like Vietnam, the Iraq conflict has divided America, destroyed friendships and strained relationships.