USA: Two leading senators demand more information from Miers before beginning hearings

The senators in charge of Harriet Miers' confirmation are demanding more information from her before hearings begin, one describing the Supreme Court nominee's answers so far as "incomplete to insulting."

Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter and senior Democrat Patrick Leahy agreed Wednesday to begin Miers' hearings on Nov. 7, but also jointly sent a letter to the White House counsel asking her to more fully answer a questionnaire she turned in Tuesday.

The two senators also plan to ask the White House to provide information about Miers' work for President George W. Bush something the White House has said previously it will not do. "A number of Republicans have asked for non-privileged information," Specter said at a news conference.

The White House can exercise executive privilege to keep documents private so staff members can freely express their views to the president. Miers returned a 57-page questionnaire to the Senate answering questions about her legal career and background and such issues as how she would deal with court cases involving the Bush administration if confirmed as the replacement for retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.

Specter and Leahy said both Republicans and Democrats on the committee felt she did not tell them enough. Bush spokeswoman Dana Perino said the White House appreciated the timing of the hearings, had received the senators' letter and would respond soon.

Perino said of Miers: "From the first day when she was nominated, she told Senator Specter that she had years of files to go through and she would work to finish the questionnaire as soon as possible, but she would likely have to send follow-ups to provide additional information."

The senators said an official request for "non-privileged" information from the White House would come after they saw Miers' response to their new questions.

Among other things, they want her to explain more about her temporary Washington, D.C., bar suspension for nonpayment of dues and for her to double-check that she submitted all of her litigated work to the committee, AP reports.


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