- Gentlemen, start your drones: Judge’s ruling opens door for commercial use
- Soldier who hid, bragged about not saluting flag to be punished — in secret
- ‘Maverick’ of the seas: ‘Top Gun’ school for U.S. ship officers to launch
- Putin declares Sochi Paralympics open amid Ukrainian protest
- ‘In Jesus name, we pray’ sparks ire at Ohio council meeting
- Navy’s first laser weapon ready for prime time; drone killer to deploy this summer
- Billionaire backer: Rick Santorum ‘needs to be heard’ in 2016
- Obamacare fallout: 49 percent pessimistic; 45 percent ‘scared’
- DHS accused of holding U.S. citizen at airport, using emails to pry into her sex life
- Seattle socialist: Minimum-wage discussion skewed by ‘right-wing’ GAO analysis
Scholars doubt White House privilege claim
President Obama could be on shaky legal ground with his assertion of executive privilege in a congressional investigation that has been going on for a year, according to scholars who study the limits of presidential power.
Mr. Fisher noted that Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., in a letter to the president, cited the need to protect the Justice Department’s “deliberative process” in responding to the congressional inquiry into a botched gun-running operation.
“Yet he admits throughout his letter to Obama that the department has regularly provided the House committee with documents” involved in drafting a particular letter to the committee on Feb. 4, 2011, Mr. Fisher said.
“He states that the department ‘has already shared with the Committee over 1,300 pages of documents concerning the drafting of the Feb. 4 letter,’ ” Mr. Fisher said. “In short, Holder was willing to release documents about that deliberative process.”
Mr. Fisher, who has testified before Congress and written a book about executive privilege, also said Mr. Holder repeatedly cites “the fundamentally false notion that when Congress wants information from the executive branch, it must be in furtherance of a ‘legitimate legislative responsibility.’ “
“The constitutional right of Congress to pursue oversight — is as legitimate as its legislative function,” Mr. Fisher said. “Oversight is also essential in investigating corruption and illegal activity in the executive branch.”
‘Not to be lightly invoked
Documents requested by House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell E. Issa, California Republican, in the “Fast and Furious” gun-running operation “should not qualify for executive privilege,” said Maureen Martin, senior fellow for legal affairs at the Heartland Institute, a conservative think-tank based in Chicago.
“The Supreme Court has held that executive privilege is ‘an extraordinary assertion of power not to be lightly invoked,’” she said in a statement. “It is intended to safeguard deliberations in the executive branch over what course of action to take. That was decided long ago as far as Fast and Furious is concerned.”
“The committee appears to seek material relating to purely internal executive deliberations about how to respond to committee and press inquiries, and not to the substance of the program and other matters,” Mr. Schwinn said. “Largely for the reasons that the attorney general gives in his letter to the president, I think he’s right that this material is covered by executive privilege as against the committee’s request for it.”
The White House defended its assertion of executive privilege Wednesday, saying Mr. Obama has used the tactic only once, far less than his predecessors.
But scholars say what matters in court is the legal validity of presidential claims of privilege, not their frequency. The move also was awkward for a president who claims to be running for re-election as having the most transparent administration in history, and it opened up a new front in Mr. Obama’s ongoing feud with congressional Republicans.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Dave Boyer is a White House correspondent for The Washington Times. A native of Allentown, Pa., Boyer worked for the Philadelphia Inquirer from 2002 to 2011 and also has covered Congress for the Times. He is a graduate of Penn State University. Boyer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Obama engages in Ukraine diplomacy from Fla. resort as Russia digs in
- Obama continues push for minimum wage hike that CBO says will cost 500K jobs
- Obamas, Bidens jetting off to warm resorts for mini-vacations
- Obama, first lady to promote access to student loans
- CPAC 2014: McConnell works to reassure conservatives
Latest Blog Entries
- Obama and Boehner congratulate U.S. men's hockey on win over Russia
- Americans say income gap will shrink if government butts out, poll shows
- WH spokesman Jay Carney recognizes beard's 'insufficiency,' shaves it off
- Obama misses deadline again on budget
- Biden burns rubber in driveway, laments road restrictions
TWT Video Picks
Taxpayers must pay the freight for over-budget train projects
- Kim Jong-un calls for execution of 33 Christians
- Rand Paul wins 2014 CPAC straw poll, Ted Cruz finishes a distant second
- Vietnam says it may have found door of missing Malaysian jet as intel look into stolen passports
- Bill Clinton poses for photo with Bunny Ranch prostitutes
- CARSON: Why did the founders give us the Second Amendment?
- Bill Clinton cashes in on struggling nonprofit hospital
- U.S. pilot scares off Iranians with 'Top Gun'-worthy stunt: 'You really ought to go home'
- Russias Putin nominated for Nobel Peace Prize
- CPAC 2014 straw poll results
- FIELDS: Oscars' fantasy on the Left Coast
Pope Francis meets his 'mini-me'
Celebrity deaths in 2014
Winter storm hits states — again