Bush administration officials unveiled a bold new assertion of executive authority yesterday in the dispute over the firing of nine U.S. attorneys, saying that the Justice Department will never be allowed to pursue contempt charges initiated by Congress against White House officials once the president has invoked executive privilege.
Breathtaking in its audacity. I've said for quite some time that the most serious damage Bush is doing to our country is the structural damage to the system of checks and balances. So if the President can claim executive privilege for any reason and there is no Congressional or Judicial oversight, what does this do to the ability of the other branches of government to restrain the imperial president?
Before the conservatives respond with a reflexive defense of Bush, bear in mind that in 2009, there may well be a President Hillary, and you just might want to exercise oversight on her administration.
I really can see only one recourse left to Congress at this time:
Article 3: Contempt of Congress.
In his conduct of the office of President of the United States, Richard M. Nixon [...] had failed without lawful cause or excuse, to produce papers and things as directed by duly authorized subpoenas [...] and willfully disobeyed such subpoenas. The subpoenaed papers and things were deemed necessary by the Committee in order to resolve by direct evidence fundamental, factual questions relating to Presidential direction, knowledge or approval of actions demonstrated by other evidence to be substantial grounds for impeachment of the President. In refusing to produce these papers and things, Richard M. Nixon, substituting his judgement as to what materials were necessary for the inquiry, interposed the powers of the Presidency against the lawful subpoenas of the House of Representatives, thereby assuming to himself functions and judgments necessary to the exercise of the sole power of impeachment vested by Constitution in the House of Representatives.
In all this, Richard M. Nixon has acted in a manner contrary to his trust as President and subversive of constitutional government, to the great prejudice of the cause of law and justice, and to the manifest injury of the people of the United States.
Wherefore, Richard M. Nixon, by such conduct, warrants impeachment and trial and removal from office.