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Bush Denies Congress Access to Aides – Kerry Says White House Stonewalling is a Disservice to Democracy

by Pamela Leavey

Today Bush invoked executive privilege again to deny the requests from Congress for “testimony from two former aides about the firings of federal prosecutors.”

The White House, however, did offer again to make former counsel Harriet Miers and one-time political director Sara Taylor available for private, off-the-record interviews.

In a letter to the heads of the House and Senate Judiciary panels, White House counsel Fred Fielding insisted that Bush was acting in good faith and refused lawmakers’ demand that the president explain the basis for invoking the privilege.

“You may be assured that the president’s assertion here comports with prior practices in similar contexts, and that it has been appropriately documented,” the letter said.

In response to the White House announcement that the President’s lawyers will block Congress from hearing testimony from two aides suspected of playing a role in the US Attorney’s purge, John Kerry issued the following statement today:

“I hope President Bush will rethink his refusal to cooperate with Congress and have his aides come clean on the firings of U.S. Attorneys,” Kerry said. “Attempting to prevent the Senate from investigating only prolongs the toxicity and further isolates a White House in bunker mode, at a time when bipartisan cooperation on big issues is desperately needed. From Day One, the President has invoked the Cheney playbook and tried to draw a vast circle of secrecy around his Administration. His refusal to allow aides to answer questions openly and honestly is another reminder of not just how little this White House respects the legislative branch, but how stubbornly committed they are to avoiding transparency and thwarting the public’s right to know.”

Bush’s “letter was sent to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.). Both denounced the White House decision.”

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