White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten Threatened With Contempt

The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee warned the White House on Thursday that chief of staff Josh Bolten could face a contempt citation if he does not immediately comply with a subpoena for documents related to the firings of U.S. attorneys.

In a letter to White House counsel Fred Fielding, Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., gave Bolten until Monday to announce whether he will comply.

The Bush administration has declared that any documents between White House officials regarding the firings are protected by executive privilege, to preserve the flow of candid advice the president receives.

A subcommittee of Conyers' panel ruled earlier Thursday that the privilege claim in Bolten's case is out of order.

Committee Democrats took the same actions against former White House counsel Harriet Miers, who ignored her subpoena last week and failed to appear before Conyers' panel. Relying on a memo from the Justice Department, Fielding declared the president's current and former top advisers immune from congressional subpoenas.

If unresolved, the standoff could result in contempt citations against those who fail to comply with their subpoenas and a referral to the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia.