Democrats investigating in bad faith

Kimberly Strassal:

A president removes a U.S. attorney, and Congress demands to see privileged files related to the firing. The president refuses, noting that "these suspensions are my executive acts," and "based upon considerations addressed to me alone." The Senate has a meltdown, arguing it has oversight authority over the removal of administration officials and threatens to censure the attorney general.

If this sounds familiar, it shouldn't, since it's the story of a long-forgotten battle that President Grover Cleveland fought with Congress in 1885. One reason it is long-forgotten is because nothing happened. The Senate was steamed that Cleveland wouldn't cough up the docs, but it also recognized there were limits on its power. It never did hold any officials in contempt, never did take any judicial action. Instead, it confirmed Cleveland's new choice for the U.S. attorney position.

What a difference 122 years makes. Democrats are conducting an insincere probe into President Bush's firing of U.S. attorneys, but these days they see no constitutional reason why the White House shouldn't cooperate in their partisan attack. In response to the administration's refusal to respond to subpoenas, the House Judiciary Committee this week voted to issue criminal contempt citations against Chief of Staff Josh Bolten and former White House Counsel Harriet Miers.

Chairman John Conyers is spinning the line that his party had no choice, but was forced into this by a recalcitrant president who is eviscerating Congress's oversight authority. If you believe that, Mr. Conyers also has a Capitol building to sell you. The contempt citations are, rather, an audacious break with history and Mr. Conyers has far more honorable options. The reason Democrats haven't pursued those more dignified routes is because this is about smearing the president, not proving a principle.

Let's remember how we got here. Democrats latched on to the firings in hopes of building some case that the White House had engaged in cronyism and cover-up. The Justice Department, in the spirit of cooperation, turned over 8,500 documents and made available a parade of officials for public testimony. Mr. Conyers and his counterpart at Senate Judiciary, Patrick Leahy, found nothing. So they then demanded the White House turn over privileged communications and submit high-ranking officials to public questioning. Mr. Bush invoked executive privilege, and Mr. Conyers went to Defcon contempt.


Congress gave itself the right to issue criminal contempt citations long ago, and bully for it, but there's nothing in legal history to suggest that in this case it has the right to apply that power to the president or his subordinates. It'd be one thing if Mr. Conyers had proved beyond doubt that a crime had been committed. He hasn't. Instead, this is a straightforward battle between Mr. Bush's claim of executive privilege and Congress's claim of oversight. Both sides, in theory, have a legitimate case.

So the idea that Congress now gets to win this battle by simply declaring the other side criminal is bizarre. Under that twisted logic, Mr. Bush has just as much right to grant himself a similar power and hold Mr. Conyers in criminal contempt for interfering in executive-branch business. This is not, obviously, a very grown-up way of settling constitutional disputes.

Fortunately, we do have a means for arbitrating fights between the branches. If Messrs. Conyers and Leahy think the White House is wrong to refuse to comply with Congress's subpoenas, they can file a civil legal proceeding in court. The judiciary will then decide just how far Mr. Bush's assertion of executive privilege extends in this case, and either force the White House to turn over the information or tell Congress to back off. It's not complicated.


We are at this point because the Democrats are operating in bad faith and they know they do not have a winning hand on the civil proceedings. Much of the controversy over the US Attorney firings involves the Democrats so far successful attempt to deligitimize the prosecution of Democrat voter fraud which they view as necessary to their winning elections. It was the failure to aggressively pursue those cases that led to the termination of the US Attorneys in most cases and the Democrats are determine to see that any such prosecutions not happen before the next election when they hope to take the executive branch and make sure they never happen. That is why they are making so much noise while holding a losing hand in the current fight.

Remember all that talk by the Democrats and the NY Times that voter fraud was not a problem? Remember how they poo-pooed the firing of the US attorney in Seattle? This story in the Seattle Times shows a very different picture.

King and Pierce County prosecutors filed felony charges today against seven people who allegedly committed the biggest voter-registration fraud in state history.

The defendants, who were paid employees and supervisors of ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, concocted the scheme as an easy way to get paid, not as an attempt to influence the outcome of elections, King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg said.

"This was an act of vandalism upon the voter rolls of King County," Satterberg said.


"Ladies and gentlemen, this is the worst case of voter-registration fraud in the history of the state of Washington. There has been nothing comparable to this," state Secretary of State Sam Reed said at a news conference with Satterberg, King County Executive Ron Sims and Acting U.S. Attorney Jeff Sullivan.

And it was not limited to registration fraud. In the disputed governors race in Washington more votes were cast in King County than there were registered voters.

Jim Geraghty points out that it is not an isolated case:


Actually, they've been convicted in Wisconsin and Colorado, and had various forms of reprimand, investigation, indictment, and other run-ins with the law and state election authorities in Virginia, Texas, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Ohio, New Mexico, North Carolina, Missouri, Michigan, Florida, and Arkansas.

At what point does this group stop getting the benefit of the doubt?

The real question should be how long will the Democrats be able to get away with their attempted cover up of voter fraud by pushing a bogus case against the Bush administrations firing of US Attorneys for not aggressively prosecuting it. The real scandal here is the conduct of the Democrats in their bogus case against the Bush administration.

Michelle Malkin has more on the ACORN case.


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