House hopes contempt matters settled soon

WASHINGTON, March 11 (UPI) -- Lawyers for a U.S. House of Representatives panel say they hope contempt citations against two White House staff members are settled by the fall.

The House Judiciary Committee went to court Monday to enforce contempt citations against White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten and former White House Counsel Harriet Miers, arguing the Bush administration has no right to block the two from testifying about the firing of U.S. attorneys, The Hill, a Washington newspaper, reported.


Lawyers said a resolution on the contempt citations was important to mark the extent of power Congress has to compel testimony from top White House aides. However, they recognize the citations may not be settled until after President George Bush leaves the White House.

White House press secretary Dana Perino called the lawsuit partisan grandstanding.

"The confidentiality that the president receives from his senior advisers and the constitutional principle of separation of powers must be protected from overreaching, and we are confident that the courts will agree with us," Perino said.

House officials counter the dispute isn't about advice given to the president because the White House has been adamant that Bush wasn't involved in the U.S. attorney firings, The Hill said.


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