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Roberts on Miers: 'I Didn't Do It'

Deadcertain Writer Robert Draper reportedly received "unusual cooperation" from the White House in preparing his book, Dead Certain: The Presidency of George Bush, which hits bookstores today. So it caused quite a stir when the front page of the Washington Post yesterday reported one of the book's more startling findings: That it was John G. Roberts Jr., now chief justice of the United States, who suggested to Bush that he nominate Harriet E. Miers to a seat on the Supreme Court. But the article as it appeared in an early edition of the Post was soon updated to include a denial from none other than Roberts himself. "The account is not true," Supreme Court spokeswoman Kathy Arberg told the Post. "The chief justice did not suggest Harriet Miers to the president."

ABC News legal correspondent Jan Crawford Greenburg, writing yesterday on her blog Legalities, likened the report to an April Fool's joke. Author of her own book about the Supreme Court, Supreme Conflict, Greenburg writes that the only motivation  she can see for a source telling Draper that story would be "to dodge blame for one of the most egregious failures of executive decision-making in Bush's second term." Greenburg's own reporting found that Roberts was "politely noncommittal" when asked his opinion of Miers:

"Roberts, a man of caution with a tremendous sense of propriety, did not strenuously object when Miers’ name came up -- but he didn’t believe it was his place to do so. He certainly never endorsed her.

"But like a game of telephone, the false rumor that Roberts 'signed off on her' has now morphed into Roberts 'suggested' her. Heck, maybe even the President believes it by now if he’s heard it repeated back to him by his advisers. But it didn’t happen."

So who was Draper's source for the allegation? The book does not say. As reporter Michael Abramowitz points out in his Post piece, the book has more than 400 footnotes, but Draper does not clearly identify the sources "for some of the more arresting assertions -- such as the one about Roberts's role in the Miers nomination." Mark Obbie at the blog LawBeat suggests that perhaps it was the president himself who planted the idea.

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on September 4, 2007 at 04:33 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

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