Archive for June 21st, 2012
What to Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, Jack Kennedy, Richard Nixon, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush all have in common? The answer, of course, is that they all invoked executive privilege during their presidencies.
So President Barack Obama’s invocation of executive privilege with regard to Eric Holder’s refusal to comply with U.S. House demands is pretty much a normal event. You wouldn’t think so, to listen to the House Republicans froth with feigned outrage. But it’s just politics as usual.
Rep. Darrell Issa (R., Calif), chair of the House Oversight Committee, is on a political high horse in an election year. He wants the voters to forget that his guy, President George W. Bush, invoked executive privilege in the face of congressional demands at least five times. Courtesy of Wikipedia:
- Bush invoked executive privilege “in substance” in refusing to disclose the details of Vice President Dick Cheney‘s meetings with energy executives.
- Bush invoked executive privilege in response to congressional subpoenas requesting documents from former presidential counsel Harriet Miers and former political director Sara Taylor.
- Bush invoked executive privilege on July 9, 2007, to block a congressional subpoena requiring the testimonies of Taylor and Miers. Furthermore, White House Counsel Fred F. Fielding refused to comply with a deadline set by the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee to explain its privilege claim, prove that the president personally invoked it, and provide logs of which documents were being withheld. On July 25, 2007, the House Judiciary Committee voted to cite Miers and White House Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten for contempt of Congress.
- On July 13, less than a week after claiming executive privilege for Miers and Taylor, Counsel Fielding effectively claimed the privilege once again, this time in relation to documents related to the 2004 death of Army Ranger Pat Tillman. In a letter to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Fielding claimed certain papers relating to discussion of the friendly-fire shooting “implicate Executive Branch confidentiality interests” and would therefore not be turned over to the committee.
- On August 1, 2007, Bush invoked the privilege for the fourth time in little over a month, this time rejecting a subpoena for Karl Rove. The subpoena would have required the President’s Senior Advisor to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee in a probe over fired federal prosecutors. In a letter to Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy, Fielding claimed that “Mr. Rove, as an immediate presidential advisor, is immune from compelled congressional testimony about matters that arose during his tenure and that relate to his official duties in that capacity….”
Of course, that was then and this is now. The shoe is on the other foot. In an election year with real issues and real crises, Rep. Issa can’t find anything more compelling than this? Sheesh.
NB. This post is dedicated to Robert Fox.