As everyone knows by now, Harriet Miers, acting under orders from the President, has refused to appear before Congress in defiance of a subpoena. In so doing, she has placed herself completely at the mercy of the House Judiciary committee — if John Conyers is on the ball, anyway.
No one disputes the power of the President to issue orders to employees of the executive branch and, in his capacity as commander-in-chief of the military, to military personnel. Whether he really has the power to order executive branch employees to defy a congressional subpoena is something that would have to be settled by the courts, but there is one thing that is absolutely and completely beyond dispute: the president has no authority whatsoever to give orders to civilians not under the employ of the executive branch.

Harriet Miers has not been employed by the executive branch since the end of January. Ergo, Bush’s instructions to her are rendered moot, and she is therefore defying the Judiciary Committee on her own initiative.

There is absolutely nothing standing in the way of the Committee ordering her arrest, and nothing standing in the way of the Committee insisting on her incarceration until such time as she agrees to comply with the law. Her only defense at that point would be a presidential pardon.

And of course, if Bush does that, he is plainly obstructing justice, and that is grounds for impeachment.

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