Last month, Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) invited Judge Jay Bybee to testify in front of a subcommittee about his “views” regarding torture and his “role” in drafting the torture memos. The Los Angeles Times subsequently reported that Bybee had chosen to ignore Leahy’s request. Today, however, in a statement during the hearing, Leahy said that Bybee had specifically refused to appear:
Since Judge Bybee, through his lawyers, has declined to testify before the Committee at this time about his role in the drafting and authorization of memoranda from the Office of Legal Counsel that permitted torture, I can only presume that he has no exonerating information to provide. Judge Bybee must know that the presumption in our civil law is that when a person fails to come forward with information in his possession that is relevant to a matter, it is presumed to be because the information is negative and not helpful to his cause.
Testifying voluntary before the Judiciary Committee about these now-public memoranda is one way in which Judge Bybee could have helped complete the record of what happened and why but he refused. This is especially inappropriate given that Judge Bybee has hardly maintained silence about these matters.
ThinkProgress asked Leahy’s office if Bybee’s lawyers informed the committee of his decision after the Times’s report. “I have to be vague,” an aide said, declining to give any specifics as to when Bybee refused the request.
At an Alliance for Justice event today discussing Judge Bybee’s future, Constitutional scholar and impeachment expert Micheal Gerhardt said that an official such as Bybee “may be impeached” even if he did not commit a “prosecutable crime.”