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Four Color Politics

Mainly the Quotes of the Morning, with occasional Other Crap.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Quotes of the Morning: Executive Privileges

“White House counsel Fred F. Fielding said in a letter to the chairmen of the Senate and House judiciary committees that President Bush will not make available the requested documents or permit testimony by two former senior aides about White House and Justice Department calculations in the firing of nine federal prosecutors.”
-Washington Post, June 28, 2007

“But, but, but.. There is nothing to hide. It was all legal and above-board. Executive privilege regarding the testimony of former employees? Has that ever been done before?”


“Q I take it the President's assertion of executive privilege does not cover Miers and Taylor testifying? Or is he saying that it does -- since they've left the executive branch?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Oh, thank you for giving me the opportunity to clarify that. The position stated in this letter and in this exercise of executive privilege is only with regard and in regard to documents; that's the only thing at instant issue.
However, the President has advised that he would exercise executive privilege in regard to the testimony of both of those individuals if it gets to that point and the subpoenas are not withdrawn and they're still (inaudible) at the time they're due. The fact that they are no longer present employees has nothing to do with the principle of executive privilege and the information protection that that affords.
Q Can you give us some background on precedent on that? Have there been other examples where people who have left government have complied with a presidential order not to testify because of executive privilege?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I'm sure we could provide that for you. I'm searching right now, I'm looking across the table. Does anybody have one -- yes.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: In, I believe, the early 1950s, material was sought from the Eisenhower administration pertaining to conduct at State in the Truman administration. And former -- then former President Truman, himself, wrote a letter objecting to the attempt to obtain such material, and it was resolved, I believe, without turning anything over.
Q That's documents, not people, right?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Don't know the answer to that, I think that's right.”
-Press Gaggle with a ‘Senior Administration Official’, June 28, 2007

“So the President is claiming that anything having to do with information that he may have heard people tell him is covered by executive privilege, correct?”

“Q For any of you, I have a question about -- as a non-legal scholar. My understanding is the evolution of the law, the executive privilege, that there are basically two forms of privilege that a president can claim. And I wanted to clarify: Is the President saying, by doing this, that he himself personally was in receipt of advice about the U.S. Attorney firings, and that's why he's invoking the privilege? The documents went to him; that his staff provided him with advice, and that's what he's protecting.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Oh no, no, that would be a misconstruction of the breadth of the executive privilege. What is related -- deliberations, formulation of advice, performance of executive branch duties consistent with the President's constitutional obligations.
Q So he is still maintaining that he had nothing to do with the actual discussions between White House staff, meaning Ms. Miers and Sara Taylor and the Justice Department related to the Attorney firings; that he had no direct involvement.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No, there's no change in our prior position at all.

Q But that is -- the way I've stated it is correct?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, state it again. I'm going to make sure -- I don't have a transcript.
Q Maybe you should get one. That would help. No -- in this case, the President is saying that he had nothing to do, directly himself, with receiving advice about the firing of the U.S. Attorneys and approving the list or adjusting the list. Just because Ms. Miers or Ms. Taylor or Scott Jennings appeared in emails with DOJ discussing that, he is asserting that there is no involvement; his personal involvement did not engage in those discussions.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: He has no personal involvement. Our position has never been any different than that.”
-Press Gaggle with a ‘Senior Administration Official’, June 28, 2007

“Oh.. So really he is saying that any intelligence that may have been used in the executive branch, whether or not he had anything to do with it, is covered by executive privilege. Luckily there is very little intelligence used by the executive branch in this administration.
You know, some of this stuff sounds kind of familiar.”

“The statements from all sides yesterday called to mind the harsh rhetoric in Washington heard at the height of the Watergate scandal.
‘This is a further shift by the Bush administration into Nixonian stonewalling and more evidence of their disdain for our system of checks and balances,’ said Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. ‘Increasingly, the president and vice president feel they are above the law.’"
-Washington Post, June 28, 2007

“Nixon? Really? Nah, can’t be. I mean Bush has said that he would allow people to speak, just as long as they respect his reasonable suggestions.”

“Bush has offered to make Rove and other senior aides, including former White House counsel Harriet E. Miers, available for private interviews, but he has refused to allow a transcript to be made of those sessions and said they could not be conducted under oath.”
-Washington Post, June 28, 2007

“See? As long as they can lie without any chance of evidence proving it they can testify. And believe me.. Fearless Leader wants some of what Harriet Miers knows to make it out to the general public..”

"’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.’"
-New York Times, October 10, 2005

“So trust me, this is nothing at all like Watergate.”

“A key question, Sunstein said, is whether executive privilege covers only a president, as the Supreme Court ruled in a 1974 case that required President Richard M. Nixon to turn over private tape recordings during the Watergate investigation.”
-Washington Post, June 28, 2007


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