Thursday, August 02, 2007
By LAURIE KELLMAN 08.02.07, 10:15 AM ET
WASHINGTON - The Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday scored its first public interview with a currently-serving aide to President Bush about the firings of federal prosecutors.
But the session with White House political aide J. Scott Jennings at the outset was yielding little more than an appeal for sympathy and a citation of Greek mythology.
With top presidential aide Karl Rove skipping the hearing on Bush's orders, the committee had to make do with a Rove underling who made clear he was appearing only to signal goodwill and to avoid a contempt of Congress citation.
"I will be unable at this time to answer any questions concerning White House consideration, deliberations or communications related to the U.S. attorneys matter," Jennings, deputy director of Bush's White House political shop, told the panel. He made that assertion after initially noting at the outset that he is only 29 years old.
The committee has heard all of this before.
Jennings' former boss, Sara Taylor, took a similar approach last month when she testified with a lawyer by her side and for several hours tried to pick and choose which questions to answer and which to refuse - citing executive privilege. The results were inconsistent, and Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., said that he had not yet decided whether a contempt citation was in order.
Like Taylor, Jennings said he would answer questions if a court directed him to do so. But the matter was unlikely to get that far.
What the committee had not heard before was a young political buck quoting Greek literature to its members.
"I hope that you can appreciate the difficulty of my situation," Jennings said in his statement. "It makes Odysseus' voyage between Scylla and Charybdis seem like a pleasure cruise."
Whether Jennings' legal journey bore any resemblance to Homer's Odyssey was unclear.
But committee members were not intrigued.
"Mr. Jennings' appearance shows that the White House's newly minted claim of 'immunity' for White House employees is a sham," Leahy said in his remarks.
Copyright 2007 Associated Press. All rights reserved.