Sticking to the Script: Executive Privilege and Contempt Citations

Today the Washington Post reported that the Administration will not allow the Justice Department to pursue contempt proceedings in the US attornies firing scandal. This is wholly unsurprising: the White House is sticking closely to what seems to be the script of a spaghetti Western: Showdown on Pennsylvania Avenue.

Congress isn’t done here, by a long shot. Credibility in the 2008 elections pretty much rides on keeping the heat on, especially since the Administration is now employing the tactics of slow tactical retreat on a number of issues that have long been recognized by many to be losing battles both morally and for public opinion (I’m thinking especially of today’s executive order banning the CIA from using torture enhanced interrogation tactics). I’d expect the next step to be Congress actually testing the Administration’s resolve to block grand jury proceedings by formally requesting such, at least in the case of Harriet Miers and Joshua Bolten.

But when the Administration steps up and does block the Justice Department from carrying out its statutory and constitutional obligations, Congress must be ready to turn the page and move on to the next scene in the showdown, which will likely be a series of lawsuits filed in the DC Federal courts. Although I have to admit, I’m more and more attracted to the idea of the Sergeant-at-Arms marching up to the White House gates every time the President pulls one of these power-grab maneuvers.

I was going to finish with a joke about the President’s colonoscopy, but that would be in bad taste. I’ll leave the possibilities to your imagination.