The underlying issue is far less consequential — but it’s ironic to see the White House falling back on a argument against transparency that Democrats have spent the last few years challenging.
Asked Wednesday whether Social Secretary Desiree Rogers would testify before Congress about her role in the Salahi affair, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters:
I think you know that, based on separation of powers, staff here don’t go to testify in front of Congress…She will not be testifying in front of Congress.’
That separation of powers argument was consistently invoked by the Bush White House to argue that Karl Rove and other top advisers shouldn’t have to testify about their roles in the U.S. attorney firings. Congressional Democrats, led by House Judiciary chair John Conyers, vigorously rejected that argument over several years, and eventually secured Rove’s testimony.
Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) has called the White House’s decision on the Rogers issue “stonewalling” — the same language Dems used during the Rove controversy. And even Rep. Loretta Sanchez, a California Democrat, has said Congress has a right to hear from Rogers.
Getting to the bottom of what looks like a screw-up by the White House Social Secretary is admittedly far less important than shedding light on an effort by the Bush administration to politicize the Justice Department. Still, it’s a bit discouraging that the White House, is embracing another argument against transparency that Democrats had little time for when it came from the previous administration.