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Bad News For Bolten And Miers

A federal district judge has ordered Josh Bolten and Harriet Miers to comply with congressional subpoenas stemming from the investigation into U.S. attorney firings. The ruling will surely be appealed, but Judge John Bates (a Bush appointee who worked on the Whitewater investigation for Ken Starr) was unconvinced (pdf) by the administration's executive-privilege claims:

The Supreme Court has reserved absolute immunity for very narrow circumstances, involving the President’s personal exposure to suits for money damages based on his official conduct or concerning matters of national security or foreign affairs. The Executive’s current claim of absolute immunity from compelled congressional process for senior presidential aides is without any support in the case law.

See Marty Lederman for more. What I really don't understand is why the administration has insisted on going down this road in the first place. It's very easy to send aides before Congress and simply have them spew nonsensical garbage, avoid answering tough questions, claim to not remember anything, and be generally unhelpful. John Yoo and David Addington were excellent at it. So why bother making implausible, overbroad arguments about executive privilege that are bound to get slapped down even by a conservative, Bush-appointed judge? It seems pointless. And it may embolden House Democrats to give Karl Rove the same treatment.

--Josh Patashnik