George Bush has just finished talking to the American people for the second time in two days. At least he's taking questions today, but it's still as ridiculous as his comments yesterday.
He is clearly challenging the Congress to a confrontation over his staff and former staff testifying under oath about the growing scandal over the firing of nine United States Attorneys (nearly ten percent of all US Attorneys!). He is using the classic argument that says that if White House staffers have to testify under oath to Congress, they will lose any ability to offer confidential advice to the President. That is nothing more than a red herring.
They are free to offer confidential advice to the President until they are blue in the face. Until they start acting unethically. Then, Congressional oversight is warranted.
I still remember the Whitewater Hearings when one after another of the Clinton Administration was dragged before Al D'Amato's Government Affairs Committee to testify there about any number of issues. In these cases, the staff themselves were not suspected of unethical behavior, they were merely a means of seeking damaging information on President Clinton.
There are indeed valid reasons for White House staff to be prevented from testifying to Congress. This, however is NOT one of those times.
The President's position is nothing more than stonewalling. They have made a conscious decision to prevent the truth coming directly from the mouths of his closest and most trusted staffers.
Bush said, "If they are truly interested in information, they need to read all of the emails we have released. They would rather be involved in partisanship. They are just interested in scoring political points."
While he is on message, he couldn't be farther away from the right thing to do. His "fair offer" to have Rove and Miers testify off-camera and off-the-record is wholly unacceptable.
Chairmen John Conyers and Pat Leahy should pick up the gauntlet thrown down by the President. The ONLY reason for Rove and Miers to not testify under oath and on the record is so they A) don't disclose information damaging to the White House, and B) so they don't find themselves facing perjury charges for lying about what they said and did.
This is unacceptable. Democrats need to STAND UP and DEMAND that Congress get to the bottom of this. Otherwise, a dangerous precedent will be created. At risk is the integrity of the Federal legal system.
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