Showdown?

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Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Pat Leahy’s announcement today that he plans to subpoena White House officials, possibly including Karl Rove, is big news–and exactly the kind of showdown the White House has been dreading. Before the election, Bush Administration officials were sounding a very hard line. Here’s what we wrote in October:

The President’s team has been planning for what one strategist describes as “a cataclysmic fight to the death” over the balance between Congress and the White House if confronted with congressional subpoenas it deems inappropriate. The strategist says the Bush team is “going to assert that power, and they’re going to fight it all the way to the Supreme Court on every issue, every time, no compromise, no discussion, no negotiation.”

It’s hard to imagine anything more likely to be deemed “inappropriate” at this White House than summoning Rove to testify. But it’s also far from clear that they have the political capital it would take to mount the kind of fight they were talking about back then. Even Texas Senator John Cornyn, normally one of Bush’s most reliable defenders, sounded very lukewarm about Gonzales and the Administration with Stephanopoulos today. Keep your eye on White House Counsel Fred Fielding this week.

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