WASHINGTON (CN) – Two of President Bush’s top aides, Harriet Miers and Josh Bolten, do not have to cooperate with a congressional probe into the firings of nine federal prosecutors in 2006, the D.C. Circuit ruled, deferring a standoff between the executive and legislative branches of government.
“The present dispute is of potentially great significance for the balance of power between the legislative and executive branches,” the three-judge panel wrote. However, the court said there wasn’t enough time to resolve the issue before this year’s congressional session ends.
In July, a federal judge ordered former White House counsel Harriet Miers to testify before the House Judiciary Committee and current presidential chief of staff Josh Bolten to hand over documents related to the prosecutors’ firings. The committee had subpoenaed the top aides in late 2006.
Democrats say the firings were politically motivated.
Asserting executive privilege, Bush tried to block his aides from testifying or producing documents. Miers and Bolten refused to comply with the subpoenas.
The court said time will run out, even with a speedy appeal, because the House of Representatives adjourns on Jan. 3.
“At that time, the 110th House of Representatives will cease to exist as a legal entity, and the subpoenas it has issued will expired,” the ruling states.
“In view of the above considerations, we see no reason to set the appeal … If the case becomes moot, we would be wasting the time of the court and the parties.”
The three-judge panel includes two Republicans.