Flushed Away

All kinds of shit is hitting the fans at the Department of Justice today. Nico at Think Progress reports:

Former White House counsel Harriet Miers and former top Karl Rove aide Sara Taylor, who served as White House political director before resigning last month, have been issued subpoenas over their connections to the U.S. attorney scandal. …

…These are the first subpoenas delivered to the White House regarding the attorney firings. The House Judiciary Committee issued the subpoena to Miers, and the Senate Judiciary Committee issued the subpoena to Taylor. Emails showing Taylor and Miers deeply involved in the Justice Department’s response to the scandal were released last night.

Nico goes on to say that the White House is claiming “executive privilege” and won’t let Miers and Taylor testify even if they want to. House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-MI) issued a statement that the subpoenas are not a request, but a demand.

As usual, emptywheel explains the fine print.

Related: Margaret Talev and Marisa Taylor write for McClatchy Newspapers:

The White House’s former political director was furious at Justice Department officials for disclosing to Congress that the administration had forced out the U.S. attorney in Little Rock, Ark., to make way for a protege of Karl Rove, President Bush’s political adviser, according to documents released late Tuesday.

Then-White House political affairs director Sara Taylor spelled out her frustrations in a Feb. 16 e-mail to Kyle Sampson, then the chief of staff to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

She sent the message after Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty told the Senate that unlike other federal prosecutors, U.S. Attorney Bud Cummins wasn’t fired for performance reasons, but to make way for former Republican political operative Tim Griffin. Griffin, serving as the interim U.S. attorney, then announced that he wouldn’t seek confirmation to the Arkansas post, but would remain until the Senate confirmed someone else. Griffin has since resigned.

“Tim was put in a horrible position; hung out to dry w/ no heads up,” Taylor lashed out in the e-mail, which was sent from a Republican Party account rather than from her White House e-mail address. “This is not good for his long-term career.”

There are some former U.S. attorneys who didn’t think getting fired was good for their long-term careers, either, I believe.

The interesting question here is not what Bush will do about it, or even what Democrats will do about it. It’s what Republicans in Congress will do about it. Most people realized the emperor is naked a long time ago. However, the GOP and news media are holding up a fig leaf to maintain some semblance of dignity and respect for the Creature and his administration. Who will be first to drop the fig leaf? Yes, Senate Republicans defended Alberto Gonzales yesterday, but they were holding their noses as they did so.

Alexander Bolton reports for The Hill:

Financial projections for the President’s Dinner tonight confirm that Republican confidence in the president is in a state of collapse.

The National Republican Congressional Committee’s (NRCC) fundraising goal is $7.5 million, which is half what was raised last year. But to reach this lesser goal, each individual lawmaker has been asked to raise the same amount as 12 months ago. In other words, the NRCC is assuming lawmakers won’t be either willing or able to hit the targets they managed last year.

George W. Bush used to be the all-time champ at fundraising. Back in 2003 I used to keep tabs on his day-to-day activities, and I realized he spent most of his time doing GOP fundraising. And he was doing this at our expense. He’d get on Air Force One and fly somewhere to preside over a ceremonial public function — announce a new forest policy to the annual logging industry convention, for example — then by some coincidence there would be a black-tie zillion-dollar-a-plate GOP fundraising dinner in the same community that very evening. He raked in money hand over fist. Between the fundraising and the exercise biking he hardly had time to do much else. Nice job if you can get it.

But the times, they are a-changed.

Between immigration, Iraq, and everything else, I wonder at what point the GOP will cut him loose. I know it’s going to be a hard decision, because they’re all up to their eyeballs in the same muck. But I don’t believe the Republicans can afford to wait out the clock on this administration and pretend to support it for the next 18 months. The position they are in is too precarious. Action will have to be taken. Eventually.