White House-Congress In Subpoena Showdown

July 8, 2007

The Bush administration is urging a former White House political director to ignore a subpoena and not testify before Congress about the firings of federal prosecutors, her lawyer says.

The Senate Judiciary Committee wants to hear from Sara Taylor at its hearing Wednesday and she is willing to talk. Testifying, however, would defy the wishes of the president, "a person whom she admires and for whom she has worked tirelessly for years," lawyer W. Neil Eggleston said.

"In our view, it is unfair to Ms. Taylor that this constitutional struggle might be played out with her as the object of an unseemly tug of war," Eggleston wrote.

He added, "Absent the direction from the White House, Ms. Taylor would testify without hesitation before the Senate Judiciary Committee. She has committed no wrongdoing. She will assert no personal privileges."

The committee chairman, Sen. Patrick Leahy, said he expects Taylor to testify.

Lawmakers have given the White House until Monday to explain why the White House claimed executive privilege on subpoenaed documents related to the congressional investigation. Lawmakers also want an accounting of documents being withheld.

The fight involves the investigation by Democratic lawmakers into the firings of several U.S. attorneys. The lawmakers want to know whether the White House improperly ordered the dismissals.

Without an agreement on the subpoenaed documents, the dispute appears to be heading toward contempt citations and, possibly, a constitutional showdown in federal court.

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