House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Judiciary chair Pat Leahy just released separate statements on the agreement to secure Karl Rove’s testimony.
The agreement for Karl Rove and Harriet Miers to testify upholds a fundamental principle: no one is above the law and Congressional subpoenas must be complied with.
As public officials, we take an oath of office to uphold the Constitution. It is the institutional duty of Congress — as an independent branch — to ensure against abuse of power through meaningful oversight over the Executive Branch. When there are credible allegations about the politicization of law enforcement, the need for Congressional oversight is at its greatest.
In upholding our oaths of office, the House of Representatives was determined to preserve checks and balances — the separation of powers that protects the rule of law. It brought action in court to enforce the Judiciary Committee’s subpoenas, and won a major ruling by U.S. District Judge John Bates dismissing the extreme position of absolute immunity from Congressional oversight advocated by the Bush Administration for former Administration officials. Under this agreement, the precedent established by Judge Bates’ historic ruling rejecting this extreme Bush Administration doctrine will be preserved.
Today’s agreement is a great victory for the Constitution, the rule of law, and the separation of powers. I appreciate the strong leadership of Chairman John Conyers and the assistance of the Obama Administration.
Congress now has the opportunity to uncover the truth and determine whether improper criteria were used by the Bush Administration to dismiss and retain U.S. Attorneys.
I hope today’s agreement will help to finally uncover the truth about the firings of U.S. Attorneys and the Bush White House cover up designed to shield from public view the inappropriate and illegal actions of the last administration.
It should not have taken until now to obtain testimony and documents from Bush administration officials connected to the investigation into the firings. Today’s agreement leaves in place the court ruling that rejected the Bush administration’s unprecedented and unfounded blanket claims of executive privilege and immunity. I rejected those claims as excessive and wrong in my ruling on President Bush’s position over a year ago, and a bipartisan majority of the Senate Judiciary Committee ultimately found Karl Rove and former White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten in criminal contempt.
I commend Chairman Conyers for the agreement reached today. I hope Congress, and the American people, will now finally hear long overdue answers to serious questions about political interference by the Bush White House in our nation’s top law enforcement agency.