Fielding’s Folly

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The White House just released counsel Fred Fielding’s response to the request by the Senate Judiciary Committee for testimony from members of the White House staff — i.e., Karl Rove and Harriet Miers. As expected, Fielding, who was brought back to the job he held under Reagan for the purpose of arm-wrestling with a Democrat-controlled Congress, is offering a compromise: “interviews” of said White House personnel, but not under oath, and only with the scope of questions narrowly limited to

the subject of (a) communications between the White House and persons outside the White House concerning the request for resignations of the U.S. Attorneys in question; and (b) communications between the White House and Members of Congress concerning those requests.

The narrowness of the scope alone may be enough for SJC Chairman Patrick Leahy to reject Fielding’s offer. If not, there’s a bigger deal-killer further down in the letter, to wit:

Such interviews would be private and conducted without the need for an oath, transcript, subsequent testimony or the subsequent issuance of subpoenas.

No transcript? No subsequent testimony? Moreoever, if I read this correctly, Fielding is asking the SJC chairman to forswear the right to issue subpoenas in the future to Rove, Miers and others — in exchange for yet-to-be-conducted inteviews that could turn out to be useless. It’s an invitation to obstruction.

I’d be very surprised if Leahy doesn’t reject this, if he hasn’t already.

Note: The Fielding letter doesn’t seem to be available on-line yet. If a reader finds it somewhere, please post the link in comments. Thanks.

UPDATE: Courtesy of TPM, here’s the Fielding letter.