by Kagro X
The Hill reported yesterday that certain Republicans were hinting that they might support criminal contempt charges against "administration" officials who refuse to comply with Congressional subpoenas.
Sen. John Cornyn (Texas), vice chairman of the GOP conference, told The Hill on Friday that he thinks Republican cooperation with a criminal contempt finding will be required.
“It’s just a formal process that sets up a legal challenge,” Cornyn said. “We’ve got to cut out some of the politics and get this to the courts.”
One Senate GOP aide, requesting anonymity, agreed that Republicans might approve a contempt finding as a procedural step. Should the White House continue to resist the subpoenas, only one of the two chambers has to approve a criminal citation before the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia can empanel a grand jury.
Great, right? Not only is it a sign of some conscience among Republicans, but it represents the long-awaited separation between Hill GOPers and Bush. Maybe. Maybe not.
Let's take a look at what Congressional Republicans are ultimately saying about the situation:
“At the end of the day, this will be settled by the courts,” Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said.
“I think this is an issue that’s going to be handled by the courts,” agreed Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.).
“In the end, the courts will decide this anyway,” said Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.)
“We can’t have a Congress that’s constantly bringing administration officials in to harass them,” said Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.). “But it’s a matter for the courts.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) called a contempt vote “the last thing the country needs,” but advised lawmakers to “let the courts fight this out.”
Hmm. Gee. What do you think Republicans would like to see here?
And more importantly, why do you think Republicans want to see this?
Citing the precedent of a 1982 contempt citation, however, Brand noted another problem: “The U.S. attorney won’t necessarily bring this matter to a grand jury. So it could be an act of futility.”
Again, those of you who've read about the process of bringing contempt charges know that the 1982 citation Brand references is that of Reagan era EPA Administrator Anne Gorsuch Burford, and that in that case the US Attorney, at the instruction of the White House, declined to prosecute the charges, and instead filed suit to enjoin enforcement of the contempt charges.
Bit of bad news for you on that score, folks. The White House counsel who drove the legal strategy in the Gorsuch case?
One Fred F. Fielding.
And your current George W. Bush White House counsel?
Mr. Fred F. Fielding.
In 1982, during current White House Counsel Fred Fielding’s first stint in the position, the U.S. attorney declined to bring a contempt charge against a Reagan administration official, instead seeking an injunction against the House.
But Leahy has predicted that the capital’s sitting U.S. attorney would be hard-pressed this year to ignore a criminal finding.
Oh. Well, that's good. "Hard-pressed."
Like with the Libby non-pardon pardon.
And that's the thing to be thinking about here. George W. Bush has just demonstrated for us that he approaches such decisions with no feelings of trepidation. Why would he be any more concerned about either directing the already-corrupt Alberto Gonzales "Justice" Department to block any contempt prosecutions?
Or worse, send word to Congressional Republicans that they're free to cover their asses politically by appearing to split with him in approving contempt charges, just as we cheer Congressional Democrats for threatening. Why might that be "worse?" Well, at this point, we have to ask what prevents the "administration" from using the court proceedings to run the clock, only to undo it all with a raft of pardons for the convicted contemnors?
In other words, do we have any guarantees that this isn't the political equivalent of football's "influence block?" What do football coaches tell players about that?
An influence block is not really a block. It is a technique used by the offensive linemen to get the defenders to look or pull in the wrong direction therefore making it easier to trap the defender or to take him away from the play. The influence block is the hardest block for a defender to defeat. In fact, the only way I know to defeat the Influence block is to read the scouting reports and watch the game films. And when you see that a team is using the influence block, let your defensive linemen know so that they may be ready for it. Sometime just knowing that your opponent uses this block, is enough to keep you out of trouble.
Maybe that's better known to you in terms of Uncle Remus' briar patch. But the influence block is all about convincing defenders that things are going his way, and that he's beaten his man. Then, rushing forward to the spot where he's sure his superior skills have allowed him to meet and tackle the ball carrier, he finds instead that the running back has gone behind him, right into the spot where he once stood. The blockers have let the defense penetrate the backfield and thereby taken them out of the play, but all the while the defenders were sure this was the moment they'd been waiting for, and they'd finally won the battle.
And the only way to defeat the influence block? Study the game films. What does the opposition have a record of doing? Fred Fielding brings experience in blocking contempt prosecutions outright. Bush himself brings experience in short-circuiting the whole process with pardons.
What do the scouting reports tell you, Judiciary Committee Democrats?