The attorney for former White House counsel Harriet Miers has said that she will not appear before the House Judiciary Committee in tomorrow’s hearing, electing not to pursue the course of Sara Taylor who chose to appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee today.
In a July 10 letter to Miers’ attorney, White House counsel Fred Fielding wrote:
We have been informed by the Department of Justice that Ms. Miers has absolute immunity from compelled Congressional testimony as to matters occurring while she was a senior adviser to the President. … Therefore, in view of this constitutional immunity, I respectfully request that you inform Ms. Miers that the President has directed her not to appear at the House Judiciary Committee hearing on Thursday, July 12, 2007.
Read the letter here.
Today, Miers’ counsel informed the House Judiciary Committee that, pursuant to Bush’s order to defy Congress’ subpoena, Miers will not appear tomorrow. Earlier, Miers’ lawyer had suggested she would appear at the hearing. As TPM Muckraker noted “Miers does in fact have a choice” to attend and answer questions, even though Bush has asserted executive privilege.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers issued the following statement:
“I am extremely disappointed in the White House’s direction to Ms. Miers that she not even show up to assert the privilege before the Committee,” Conyers said. “We understand that the White House has asserted privilege over both her testimony and documents, and we are prepared to consider those claims at tomorrow’s hearing.”
Congress can issue a contempt citation if Miers does not appear. Asked last Sunday if he would consider doing that, Conyers said, “Well, yes. It means moving forward in the process that would require him to comply with the subpoenas like most other people.” Marty Lederman explained the potential legal avenues Congress might pursue at that point.