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The unsigned editorial declares: In nasty and bumbling comments made at the White House yesterday, President Bush declared that “people just need to hear the truth” about the firing of eight United States attorneys. That’s right. Unfortunately, the deal Mr. Bush offered Congress to make White House officials available for “interviews” did not come close to meeting that standard.Mr. Bush’s proposal was a formula for hiding the truth, and for protecting the president and his staff from a legitimate inquiry by Congress. Mr. Bush’s idea of openness involved sending White House officials to Congress to answer questions in private, without taking any oath, making a transcript or allowing any follow-up appearances. The people, in other words, would be kept in the dark.The Democratic leaders were right to reject the offer, despite Mr. Bush’s threat to turn this dispute into a full-blown constitutional confrontation.
It is hard to imagine what, besides evading responsibility, the White House had in mind. Why would anyone refuse to take an oath on a matter like this, unless he were not fully committed to telling the truth?The White House notes that making misrepresentations to Congress is illegal, even if no oath is taken. But that seems to be where the lack of a transcript comes in. It would be hard to prove what Mr. Rove and others said if no official record existed.
This is an administration that has shown over and over that it does not believe that the laws apply to it, and that it does not respect its co-equal branches of government.