Separation of Powers

House Schedules Contempt Vote

The House Judiciary Committee has scheduled a Wednesday vote on whether to hold the president’s chief of staff and his former White House counsel in contempt of Congress.

The vote could set up a constitutional conflict with the administration, which maintains the Justice Department does not have the power to pursue contempt charges once the president asserts executive privilege. (See this post for more information on the administration’s position.)

The dispute arises from a House investigation into the firings of nine U.S. attorneys. The vote would focus on chief of staff Joshua Bolten, who holds many of the records sought, and former White House counsel Harriet Miers, who has refused to comply with a subpoena seeking her testimony, the Washington Post reports.

The announcement comes as Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is preparing to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee tomorrow on the same issue. His prepared statement says he is troubled by allegations that hiring decisions were based on politics, but he would continue in his job as he spearheads reform, the Post reports.

“Since I have never been one to quit, I decided that the best course of action was to remain here and fix the problems,” he said. “That is exactly what I am doing.”

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