[JURIST] US President George W. Bush [official profile] invoked executive privilege Wednesday to prevent members of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform [official website] from obtaining an FBI report on an interview with Vice President Dick Cheney concerning the Valerie Plame CIA leak scandal [JURIST news archive]. The Committee had subpoenaed [JURIST report] Attorney General Michael Mukasey [official profile] in late June, attempting to gain access to the documents. The assertion of executive privilege by President Bush came in a letter [text, PDF] to Committee Chairman Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) [official website]. The letter to Rep. Waxman also contained a letter [text, PDF] from Mukasey to President Bush outlining the legal justification for invoking the privilege. In that letter, Mukasey wrote:
Much of the content of the subpoenaed documents falls squarely within the presidential communications and deliberative process components of executive privilege. Several of the subpoenaed interview reports summarize conversations between you and your advisors, which are direct presidential communications. Other portions of the documents fall within the scope of the presidential communications component of the privilege because they summarize deliberations among your most senior advisers in the course of preparing information or advice for presentation to you, including information related to the preparation of your 2003 State of the Union Address and possible responses to public assertions that the address contained an inaccurate statement. In addition, many of the documents summarize deliberations among senior White House officials about how to respond to media inquiries concerning the 2003 State of the Union Address and Ambassador Wilson's trip to Niger. Such internal deliberations among White House staff clearly fall within the scope of the deliberative process component of the privilege. As the Supreme Court explained, "human experience teaches that those who expect public dissemination of their remarks may well temper candor with a concern for appearances and for their own interests to the detriment of the decisionmaking process."Rep. Waxman responded to the President's assertion of executive privilege in an opening statement [text, PDF] to a meeting on a possible contempt order against Mukasey, calling the assertion "ludicrous," and replying:
This unfounded assertion of executive privilege does not protect a principle; it protects a person. The President is wrong to shield Vice President Cheney from scrutiny. In our system of government, even the Vice President should be accountable for his action.AP has more. The Washington Post has additional coverage.
The June subpoena was the latest of several attempts by legislative bodies to obtain documents and testimony related to these investigations. In May, the Committee voted to issue a subpoena [JURIST report] to compel Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff David Addington [US News profile] to testify about a Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel memorandum [text; JURIST report] authorizing a wide range of interrogation methods to be used against suspected terrorists. In January, the House Committee on Oversight and Reform sought transcripts [letter, PDF; JURIST report] of the interviews conducted with the CIA leak investigation, but was unsuccessful in obtaining them.