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House Judiciary Committee threatens White House aides with contempt charges

[JURIST] The US House Judiciary Committee [official website] submitted a report [PDF text] Monday to the House clerk accusing White House Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten and former White House legal counsel Harriet Miers [official profiles] of contempt for repeatedly failing to comply with subpoenas relating to the committee's investigation into the US Attorneys firing scandal [JURIST news archive]. The White House responded [press briefing transcript] that the sought information is protected by executive privilege and that both Miers and Bolten are immune from prosecution. In a Monday letter [PDF text; press release] to White House counsel Fred Fielding, House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-MI) [official website] urged White House officials to comply with subpoenas, warning that they have until November 9 to respond.

In July, the US House Judiciary Committee voted [JURIST report] to issue contempt of Congress citations [backgrounder; 2 USC Sec. 192] against Bolten and Miers. The full House will decide whether to sanction the two for their refusal to comply with the subpoenas. Conyers has said that an investigation [report, PDF] has "uncovered serious evidence of wrongdoing by the department and White House staff" in connection to the firings and the administration's handling of the ensuing investigation. Contempt of Congress is a federal misdemeanor that carries a fine of up to $100,000 and one-year imprisonment. AP has more.

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