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Justice Dept. Files Motion To Prevent Investigation of the Justice Dept. « The Washington Independent

The tension between an investigation into politicization at the the Justice Dept. and the agency’s duty to weigh in to Congress on constitutional matters has come to a head. The Justice Dept’s vested interest in executive privilege became an issue last night when the department filed a motion in a U.S. district court saying that a federal judge should reverse his recent decision that executive privilege doesn’t give White House officials immunity to testify before Congress.

Patrick Bates, a judge for the U.S. District Court of Washington, D.C., ruled last month that Harriet Miers, the former White House counsel, must tell Congress under oath what she knows about the fired U.S. attorney’s. Bates also compelled Josh Bolten, the White House Chief of Staff, to turn over documents related to U.S. Attorney’s. Bates argued that even if the President asserts executive privilege for Bolten and Miers, the two must cooperate with the judiciary committee and only invoke executive privilege in specific instances.

The motion may also affect the looming testimony of Karl Rove, EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson, and even the Attorney General himself, Michael Mukasey. Each has claimed executive privilege in the face of subpoenas from either the House judiciary or oversight committees.

It’s not entirely clear whether Justice is acting genuinely to uphold separation of powers or protecting itself from incriminating revelations. Regardless, with Congress in session for just three more weeks until the election, it might be a useful stalling tactic.

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