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Texas Documents Show Miers's Close Ties to Bush

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://www.nytimes.com/2005/10/11/politics/politicsspecial1/11archive.html?th&emc=th Documents Show Miers s Close Ties to Bush By RALPH BLUMENTHAL and SIMON
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 11, 2005
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      http://www.nytimes.com/2005/10/11/politics/politicsspecial1/11archive.html?th&emc=th

      Documents Show Miers's Close Ties to Bush

      By RALPH BLUMENTHAL and SIMON ROMERO
      Published: October 11, 2005

      AUSTIN, Tex., Oct. 10 - "You are the best governor
      ever - deserving of great respect," Harriet E. Miers
      wrote to George W. Bush days after his 51st birthday
      in July 1997. She also found him "cool," said he and
      his wife, Laura, were "the greatest!" and told him:
      "Keep up the great work. Texas is blessed."

      Ms. Miers, President Bush's personal lawyer and his
      selection for a Supreme Court seat, emerges as an
      unabashed fan in more than 2,000 pages of official
      correspondence and personal notes made public on
      Monday by the Texas State Library and Archives
      Commission in response to open-records requests.

      Mr. Bush returned the admiration, the files show.
      After Ms. Miers's birthday wishes, he wrote thanks and
      a "happy 52nd to you." He added, "I appreciate your
      friendship and candor - never hold back your sage
      advice."

      The documents, including many minutes of meetings of
      the Texas Lottery Commission, which Ms. Miers headed,
      shed little light on her legal thinking, but
      underscore her ties to Mr. Bush. Because of their
      closeness and her lack of a judicial record, some
      critics have dismissed Ms. Miers as a crony unworthy
      of nomination to the court but for her confidential
      service as the president's lawyer.

      Others question whether their bond could undermine the
      separation of powers of the executive and judicial
      branches.

      More than a year into Mr. Bush's first term as
      governor, Ms. Miers drew on their friendship by asking
      the Bushes to serve as "honorary chairs" at an
      Anti-Defamation League dinner in 1996 honoring Ms.
      Miers with the Jurisprudence Award for devotion to
      constitutional principles and democratic values.

      Mr. and Ms. Bush agreed, and the governor delivered
      one of the two keynote tributes, saying: "A desire to
      see justice done is what drives my friend Harriet
      Miers. And believe me, when Harriet is out for
      justice, she is a formidable character."

      Mr. Bush added: "When it comes to cross-examination,
      Harriet can fillet better than Mrs. Paul. I know
      first-hand. She is my lawyer."

      A few days later, Ms. Miers wrote to thank the Bushes,
      saying, "Texas has a very popular governor and first
      lady!" She recalled a little girl who collected Mr.
      Bush's autograph and said, "I was struck by the
      tremendous impact you have on the children whose lives
      you touch."

      The notes to Mr. Bush date from at least March 1995,
      around the time he named her to the lottery
      commission, the files show. On March 25, on the
      letterhead of her Dallas law firm, Locke Purnell Rain
      Harrell, Ms. Miers wrote to thank him "for taking the
      time to visit in the office and on the plane back -
      cool!"

      "Keep up all the great work," she wrote. "The state is
      in great hands. Thanks also for yours and your
      family's personal sacrifice."

      In October 1997, Ms. Miers sent Mr. Bush a flowery
      greeting card in thanks for a letter that he had
      written on her behalf. In it, she said of his
      daughters: "Hopefully Jenna and Barbara recognize that
      their parents are 'cool' - as do the rest of us."

      She added, "All I hear is how great you and Laura are
      doing," and ended, "Texas is blessed."

      A spokesman for the White House, Allen Abney, said he
      did not have enough information on the exchanges to
      comment in detail.

      "We've said all along they are close," Mr. Abney said.
      "The president nominated Ms. Miers because of her
      qualifications and because he knows her and they share
      the same conservative judicial philosophy."

      The documents, released on Monday at the archives and
      covering 1995 to 2000, did not touch on her views on
      sensitive social issues. They also were not related to
      Mr. Bush's campaigns for governor and president. Those
      files are held with his father's papers at Texas A&M
      and are not public.

      Before the release, the papers were reviewed by the
      office of Gov. Rick Perry, a Republican, which made no
      objections. The lottery commission blocked the release
      of two confidential memorandums with appeals to the
      state attorney general's office.

      The search produced more than 2,000 pages from the
      2,000 cubic feet of documents from Mr. Bush's files as
      governor and more than 20 square feet of records from
      the commission. Some papers from Ms. Miers's time at
      the commission , a position to which she was named by
      Mr. Bush, depicted her as a bureaucrat with a keen eye
      for procedure. They also showed she sailed through her
      confirmation hearing. Minutes of commission meetings
      showed Ms. Miers in command, questioning employees and
      other commissioners on topics like advertising,
      charitable bingo operations and bids to help manage
      the lotteries. One lawmaker asked what groups could
      run bingo, saying, "Could the Ku Klux Klan?"

      Ms. Miers responded, "Well, I would certainly hope
      not."

      Nathan Levy contributed reporting from Austin for this article.
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