Sat, Jun 30, 2007 - Page 7 News List

Bush invokes privilege in row over fired prosecutors

AFP , WASHINGTON

The White House and Congress were on a constitutional collision course on Thursday, after US President George W. Bush refused to hand over documents related to a row over fired prosecutors.

In an escalating tussle between emboldened Democratic lawmakers and the weakened president, Bush's spokesman also dismissed as "outrageous" new Senate subpoenas slapped on the White House over a war on terror wiretap program.

But senior Democrats accused Bush of replicating the "stonewall" blocking tactics of disgraced former US president Richard Nixon during the Watergate scandal.

Bush's lawyers invoked "executive privilege" to rebuff subpoenas issued by the Senate and House of Representatives judiciary committees, targeting former White House counsel Harriet Miers and ex-political director Sara Taylor.

Both aides were called to hand over documents and testify in the drama over fired White House prosecutors, which has lawmakers from both sides of the aisle demanding the sacking of Attorney-General Alberto Gonzales.

The House of Representatives Judiciary Committee sought the same day to compel testimony from ex-counsel and former failed Supreme Court nominee Miers.

The row erupted over claims Gonzales fired eight federal prosecutors last year for purely political reasons to benefit Bush's Republican party. He has denied the charges.

On another legal front, Bush looked set to resist Senate Judiciary Committee subpoenas slapped on the White House and Vice President Dick Cheney's office on Wednesday over the warrantless wiretap program.

Without formally responding to the subpoenas, Snow called them "an outrageous request" that was intended simply "to make life difficult for the White House."

"It also explains why this is the least popular Congress in decades," Snow added.

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