Court says White House aides must appear before Congress

Other News Materials 31 July 2008 22:42 (UTC +04:00)

A federal judge ruled Thursday that White House aides must testify before Congress in connection with a long-running investigation into allegations that the US Justice Department has become politicized, dpa reported.

The US District Court for the District of Columbia said that former White House counsel Harriet Miers must comply with a subpoena to appear before the Judiciary Committee of the House of Representatives.

Miers and former chief of staff Joshua Bolton had been cited for contempt by the House earlier this year for failing to comply with a congressional investigation into the firing of nine US attorneys for political reasons.

The White House has barred aides from appearing before congressional committees by citing executive privilege, a controversial rule of privacy which is often disputed between the two government branches.

"Ms Miers is not entitled to absolute immunity from compelled congressional process," wrote Judge John D Bates in the court's opinion.

"Ms Miers is not excused from compliance with the committees subpoena by virtue of a claim of executive privilege that may ultimately be made. Instead, she must appear before the committee to provide testimony, and invoke executive privilege where appropriate," Bates wrote.

Karl Rove, a top former White House aide, was held in contempt on Wednesday by the Judiciary Committee, also for failing to comply with a subpoena.