Hat tip to Kathy and Larisa (at-Largley) for this one.
John Dean, former White House Counsel to Richard Nixon during the Watergate scandal of the early seventies that led to President Nixon's resignation in the face of impeachment threats, explains:
New Developments in the U.S. Attorney Controversy:
Why Bush Refuses to Allow Karl Rove and Harriet Miers to Testify Before Congress, and What Role New White House Counsel Fred Fielding May Play
John W. Dean, FindLaw, March 23, 2007
Of course, I do not know what is transpiring behind closed doors at the White House right now. But I do believe there is more occurring than meets the eye with respect to the potential confrontation developing between the Democratic Congress and the Bush White House. On the surface, the clash appears rather simple: Congress wants information, and Bush does not want to provide it if it means breaching the sanctity of the realm in which he receives advice from his aides privately. But this surface conflict, as I will explain, does not get to the bottom of this developing dust-up.
In truth, much more is at stake here for both the Congress and the White House than this bare description of the conflict would indicate. These issues strike at the heart of what post-Watergate conservative Republicans seek to create: an all-powerful presidency. Thus, for the same reason that Vice President Cheney went to extreme lengths to block Congress from getting information about the work of his National Energy Task Force, as I discussed in prior columns such as this one, I expect President Bush to take what will appear to be a similar irrational posture. For both Bush and Cheney, virtually any limit on presidential power is too great.
And this conflict, in the end, is all about presidential power. Moreover, underlying the Administration's defense of unchecked power, is a term that has not been heard since Justice Alito's confirmation hearings: "the unitary executive theory." Once, conservatives rejected a strong presidency. Today, however, the opposite is the case, and the unitary executive theory is central to their argument.Look, if Rove won't talk, there's always a way. Cheney & Bush have assured us many times that it isn't torture, so how about giving Rove a ride on a waterboard?
It Seems Likely Bush, with Fielding, Will Go to the Wall on Executive Privilege
This time, it is my belief that Bush -- unlike Reagan before him -- will not blink. He will not let Fielding strike a deal, as Fielding did for Reagan. Rather, Bush feels that he has his manhood on the line. He knows what his conservative constituency wants: a strong president who protects his prerogatives. He believes in the unitary executive theory of protecting those prerogatives, and of strengthening the presidency by defying Congress.
In short, all those who have wanted to see Karl Rove in jail may get their wish, for he will not cave in, either -- and may well be prosecuted for contempt, as Gorsuch was not. Bush's greatest problem here, however, is Harriett Miers. It is dubious he can exert any privilege over a former White House Counsel; I doubt she is ready to go to prison for him; and all who know her say if she is under oath, she will not lie. That could be a problem.
Gonzales could carry the water. After all, he's had lots of practice.
Come to think of it, they've all had too much practice. It's time for them to move on.