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House panel sues to force testimony

WASHINGTON — Demonstrating that a constitutional battle between Congress and the White House is far from over, the House Judiciary Committee sued presidential chief of staff Joshua Bolten and former White House counsel Harriet Miers on Monday to try to compel them to provide information about the firings of nine U.S. attorneys.

The committee's lawsuit in federal court comes after Democratic-led congressional hearings investigated the firings, the Justice Department released thousands of internal e-mails and documents, and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales resigned.

Democrats say they have been forced to sue more than a year after they launched the inquiry because the administration refuses to allow Miers and Bolten to provide crucial information shedding light on the reason for the firings.

The administration has denied wrongdoing and maintains Congress has no compelling interest to see internal White House deliberations.

Congress' investigation into the firings of the U.S. attorneys produced suspicions but no proof that the prosecutors were targeted because they had rebuffed Republican demands that they bring weak voter-fraud cases against Democrats or because they had mounted corruption investigations of Republicans.

The lawsuit accuses administration officials of injecting partisan considerations into the firing decisions and making "questionable or outright false statements" in explanations to Congress.

Last month, the House voted mostly along party lines to hold Bolten and Miers in contempt and authorized the Judiciary Committee to ask a court to order them to testify if the Justice Department failed to issue criminal contempt citations.

House panel sues to force testimony 03/10/08 [Last modified: Thursday, October 28, 2010 9:35am]
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