White House aides must appear before Congress: US court

August 1st, 2008 - 1:46 am ICT by IANS  

Washington, Aug 1 (DPA) A federal judge ruled Thursday that White House aides must testify before the Congress in connection with a long-running investigation into the controversial firing of nine attorneys of the justice department earlier this year for alleged political reasons. Harriet Miers, a former White House counsel, and former chief of staff Joshua Bolton had been cited for contempt by the house earlier this year for failing to comply with a congressional investigation into the allegations that the justice department has become politicised.

The US District Court for the District of Columbia said that Miers must comply with a subpoena to appear before the Judiciary Committee of the House of Representatives.

The White House has barred aides from appearing before congressional committees by citing executive privilege, a controversial rule of privacy which is often disputed between the two government branches.

“Ms Miers is not entitled to absolute immunity from compelled congressional process,” wrote Judge John D. Bates in the court’s opinion.

“Ms Miers is not excused from compliance with the committees subpoena by virtue of a claim of executive privilege that may ultimately be made. Instead, she must appear before the committee to provide testimony, and invoke executive privilege where appropriate,” Bates wrote.

Karl Rove, a top former White House aide, was held in contempt Wednesday by the judiciary committee, also for failing to comply with a subpoena.

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