The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee said yesterday that he will attempt to cite the White House for criminal contempt of Congress if it does not turn over documents related to the firing of nine federal prosecutors, The Washington Post reports.
“If they don’t cooperate, yes, I’d go that far,” Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “This is very important to the American people.”
Leahy’s comments raise the stakes in a growing conflict between the Democrat-controlled Congress and the Bush White House, suggesting the constitutional clash may end up in a court case that could last beyond Bush’s tenure as president.
Congressional investigators want testimony, internal e-mails and other documents to clarify what role Bush’s senior staff played in the Justice Department’s removal of nine prosecutors last year. The firings have triggered bipartisan calls for Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales to resign.