MSNBC’s Mike Viquiera: “Fred Fielding, he’s the White House counsel, he was just here meeting with the House Judiciary Committee. He made the following offer to the Congress, both House and Senate. He said Rove and Harriet Miers would be offered to the committees for their testimony in the Alberto Gonzales prosecutors scandal. However, it would be unsworn testimony, not under oath, behind closed doors, and no transcript would be permitted. Now, that is not what Congress is looking for.”
UPDATE: During a press conference, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) also revealed that the White House is restricting the types of documents that it is willing to release voluntarily. Schumer said the White House is willing to turn over emails between the White House and the Justice Department, and between the White House and third parties, but not intra-White House emails. Schumer explained the problem:
So, if Karl Rove sent a communication to Harriet Miers and said, and this is purely hypothetical, “We have to get rid of US Attorney Lam. Come up with a good reason…” and the only communication we get is the good reason that Harriet Miers sent to the Justice Department.
Later, a reporter argued that Rove and Miers would still be legally compelled to tell the truth even if they weren’t technically under oath. Schumer pointed added by refusing to allow a transcript to be made, “it would be almost meaningless to say that they were under some kind of legal sanction.” Watch it:
UPDATE II: President Bush to speak on the U.S. Attorney purge at 5:30pm ET.
UPDATE III: Read the full White House letter laying out its offer.
SCHUMER: And I would say at best the offer is incomplete and that would be putting as kind a face on it as we could. We would be able to interview the four people we requested — Karl Rove, counsel Miers, and their two assistants — but only in private, not under oath, and with no transcript. And the last part of this is the most troubling of all. When there’s no transcript, what do we do when people’s recollections are different. Furthermore, when there’s no transcript, and what, say, Karl Rove says contradicts what somebody else has said, what do we do?
They did offer to turn over documents, but that too was extremely incomplete because the only documents they’d turn over to us are communications from the White House to the Justice Department, from the White House to other third parties, and back. But no intra-White House communications. So, if Karl Rove sent a communication to Harriet Miers and said, and this is purely hypothetical, “We have to get rid of US Attorney Lam. Come up with a good reason…” and the only communication we get is the good reason that Harriet Miers sent to the Justice department in terms of getting rid is.
So this is a — its sort of giving us the opportunity to talk to them, but not giving them the opportunity to get to the bottom of what really happened here. And in that way it is a pretty clever proposal, but it doesn’t doe the job of figuring out what happened as best we can tell. So the next step is to consult with one another; Chairman Conyers and chairman Leahy will take the lead in determining what our response will be. We obviously will present a counter offer to them that would be far more complete and far more extensive. But speaking from the Senate side because I spoke to Chairman Leahy earlier, we will move forward with the subpoenas on Thursday because this is not what Chairman Leahy had outlined on Sunday, which is coming before us, speaking under oath, there are many many problems with this agreement and any lawyer worth his or her salt would tell you that you’re not going to really find out what went on if you stick to the bounds of this agreement.
QUESTION: Just to confirm, you’re going to go ahead with the vote to authorize the chairman to issue the subpoenas, you’re not going to actually issue the subpoenas?
SCHUMER: You’ll have to talk to Sen. Leahy about the details, but that’s my understanding. That we will go ahead and give the chairman the right to subpoena.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) give you extra leverage in your negotiations with them to try to force them to testify?
SCHUMER: We’re not seeking leverage per se, we’re seeing to get the truth. And with no transcript, with no oath, with private conversations that can be contradicted, recollections can fail, you’re not going to get very far.
QUESTION: Why did the White House agree to this, why did they set this up?
SCHUMER: Well you’ll have to ask Counsel Fielding, but he said he wanted this to be a conversation rather than a hearing. Conversations fine, but lets have a conversation under oath with a transcript so we can see what has happened and weigh the testimony against these particular witnesses against the others.
QUESTION: Senator Schumer, there’s no oath, but the law is such that they don’t have to necessarily be under oath to be compelled to tell the truth to Congress.
SCHUMER: With out a transcript, it would be very — it would be almost meaningless to say that they were under some kind of legal sanction. But these are things we’re going to check out. This is sort of a unique offer.