WASHINGTON — The Senate Judiciary Committee chairman said Sunday that he was ready to go to court if the White House resisted congressional subpoenas for information on the firing of eight federal prosecutors.
"If they don't cooperate, yes, I'd go that far," Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) said on NBC's "Meet the Press." He had been asked whether he would seek a congressional vote on contempt citations if President Bush did not comply. That move would push the matter to court.
"They've chosen confrontation rather than compromise or cooperation," Leahy said. "The bottom line on this U.S. attorneys' investigation is that we have people manipulating law enforcement. Law enforcement can't be partisan."
At issue is whether the White House exerted undue political influence in the Justice Department's firing of prosecutors. Leahy's hardening stance is pushing the Democratic-led investigation ever closer to a constitutional showdown over executive power and Congress' right to oversight.