I got an e-mail from a Fred Piccolo at the U.S. House e-mail address. I never signed up to be on a mailing list? Does the Congressman's office have some free time that they put in e-mail addresses to pass the time away?
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE JULY 19, 2007
CONTACT Fred Piccolo 202-225-7751 (O) 202-536-8424 (C)
Note: An electronic copy of this release can be found at -
Note: A video of Congressman Cannon's opening statement can be seen at - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a9U1LUOhdQo
Opening Statement of
Ranking Member Chris Cannon at Hearing on
“Meeting to Consider the Executive Privilege Claims Asserted by White House Counsel in Response to the Subpoena for the Production of Documents Issued to Joshua Bolten, White House Chief of Staff, or Appropriate Custodian of Records”
Thursday, July 19th, 1:00 p.m., 2141 RHOB
One week ago, this Subcommittee met before an empty witness chair, in a hearing the majority knew would yield no new information.
One thing did happen during that hearing that could have advanced our resolution of this matter.
I challenged the majority to present to the American people and the minority the evidence it believes justifies the continuance of this investigation.
I challenged the majority to cite and produce specific hearing testimony, interview testimony or documents demonstrating that in this case there is a critical question that remains unanswered and can be answered only by information from Harriet Miers or other White House sources – such as the White House documents at issue today.
The silence since I issued that challenge is deafening.
The majority did not present that evidence at the hearing.
The majority has not presented that evidence since.
I draw one conclusion – the majority does not have that evidence.
We are here today to consider a ruling on the executive privilege claims the White House has asserted over its documents and lining up contempt citations for Harriet Miers and the White House.
Once the majority obtains that ruling, it presumably will move on to contempt proceedings over the refusals, based on those claims, to appear, testify and turn over documents.
These games may be strangely entertaining to lawyers, press hounds, and academics.
But they are not parlor games, and they promise no productive end.
On the contrary, they pointlessly threaten to land in jail people who are asserting understandable claims to executive privilege, concerning evidence we don’t really need, and that we could have had – and still could have –if we were willing to take up the months-old White House offer of informal discovery.
Instead, we are placing Harriet Miers and Josh Bolten in the crosshairs for refusing to give us information, when we ourselves for months have refused the White House’s offers to give us precisely that information voluntarily.
This investigation began with the outcry over the dismissals of eight U.S. Attorneys from the very party whose leader, President Clinton, dismissed all 93 U.S. Attorneys in 1993.
It continued just last week, when the majority overruled executive privilege claims Harriet Miers forwarded – even though they rested on the legal opinion of Janet Reno, President Clinton’s Attorney General, that immediate advisers to the president, specifically including the White House Counsel, were absolutely immune from being compelled to testify before Congress.
There is one thing I want to assure everyone understands:
If this body votes out a contempt citation, and that citation is sent to the U.S. Attorney for prosecution to pierce executive privilege then this body will be committing precisely the kind of partisan abuse the majority has decried from the outset of this investigation.
In fact, the majority will be forcing the U.S. Attorney to pursue a political case. The Majority will be engaging in the sort of activity they are accusing the Justice Department of. The only difference is there is no factual evidence that the Department has engaged in that sort of behavior, only innuendo.
It is a core responsibility of Congress to oversee the Executive Branch. But after all the investigation we have done on this matter it has resulted in no evidence of wrongdoing in the removal of the U.S. Attorney’s. Instead, we have damaged the Justice Department and diminished Congress and have landed at the threshold of contempt proceedings against Harriet Miers and the White House.
We anticipate a court battle which I very much fear we will lose. If we don’t have substantial evidence of wrongdoing, we will perpetually undermine the Congress’ prerogatives in overseeing future administrations.
So I renew my challenge to the majority: Produce the evidence they believe establishes wrongdoing in the U.S. Attorney dismissals; cite and produce specific hearing testimony, interview testimony or documents demonstrating that there remains in this case a critical unanswered question that can be answered only through contempt proceedings.
Because without that evidence, there not only is no basis for ruling against the White House’s assertion of executive privilege, there is no basis for proceeding further with this investigation. There is no basis for doing anything other than wrapping this investigation up. We need to get back to the real business of the American people.
I yield back.