Thursday, June 28, 2007

The White House Flip Flops on Cheney's Role

Well that was quick.

All hat, no cattle:

WASHINGTON, June 27 — The White House has dropped the argument that Vice President Dick Cheney’s dual role as president of the Senate meant that he could deny access to national archivists who oversee the handling of classified data in the executive branch.

Mr. Cheney’s office had said that his dual role meant that he was technically not part of the executive branch.

In interviews over the last two days, officials have said that while the vice president does, in fact, have the right of refusal, it is for the very opposite reason: He is not required to cooperate with National Archives officials seeking the data because he is a member of the executive branch, with power vested in him by the president.

Cheney was against his power before he was for it.

They think they're pretty darn sly over there at the WH:

In an interview, a White House spokesman, Tony Fratto, said the executive order explicitly placed Mr. Cheney on equal footing with the president, who was the issuer and enforcer of the order, regardless of any other constitutional questions.

Speaking of the oversight office’s approaches to the vice president’s office, Mr. Fratto said, “It’s not appropriate for a subordinate office like that to investigate or require reporting from the enforcer of the executive order.”

A White House official placed further distance from the dual role argument by adding that Mr. Cheney did not necessarily agree with it.

Riiight. And there really is a tooth fairy.

And meanwhile, speaking of executive privilege:

WASHINGTON - President Bush, moving toward a constitutional showdown with Congress, asserted executive privilege Thursday and rejected lawmakers' demands for documents that could shed light on the firings of federal prosecutors.

Bush's attorney told Congress the White House would not turn over subpoenaed documents for former presidential counsel Harriet Miers and former political director Sara Taylor. Congressional panels want the documents for their investigations of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' stewardship of the Justice Department.

After all, they tried so hard to be cooperative - in their own minds, anyway:

"With respect, it is with much regret that we are forced down this unfortunate path which we sought to avoid by finding grounds for mutual accommodation," White House counsel Fred Fielding said in a letter to the chairmen of the Senate and House Judiciary Committees. "We had hoped this matter could conclude with your committees receiving information in lieu of having to invoke executive privilege. Instead, we are at this conclusion."

"Unfortunate". That seesm to be this week's buzzword.

So, what's next?

Thursday was the deadline for surrendering the documents. The White House also made clear that Miers and Taylor would not testify next month, as directed by the subpoenas, which were issued June 13. The stalemate could end up with House and Senate contempt citations and a battle in federal court over separation of powers.

I'll tell you what: change that "could" to "should" and just get on with it already.

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