Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Betting the Farm on Executive Privilege

Talk about stones! On Tuesday, while the nation absorbed the shock of what happened in Virginia, the White House used the political cover the tragedy provided to assert (as they had indicated they would) that Executive Privilege extends to the Republican National Committee computer system.

Yep. You read that right . (Can you imagine if Bill Clinton had tried to assert such a thing? There would have been great wailing and howling and gnashing of teeth. A racket would have set up from the Republicans that would have drowned out a Spinal Tap show - and their amps go to 11.)

From the Washington Post:

The RNC deferred yesterday to White House requests that all documents from administration officials who used RNC e-mail accounts first be reviewed by Bush's lawyers. Congress has requested several years' worth of e-mails from top White House advisers, including Karl Rove, as part of its investigation of the prosecutor firings. In letters to the House and Senate Judiciary committees, an RNC lawyer said those documents belong to the White House.

"Recognizing the unique and significant nature of the potential privilege issue raised by the committee's requests, the RNC has agreed to the White House's reasonable request," Robert K. Kelner, an RNC lawyer, wrote to Conyers. Conyers responded that the action was "a clear attempt on the administration's part to delay this process."

House and Senate investigators have focused on e-mails by J. Scott Jennings, the White House's deputy political director, who used RNC e-mail accounts to discuss Rove's interest in appointing a former deputy as the U.S. attorney in Little Rock.

A leading House Democrat said last week that he had been told that as many as four years' worth of Rove's RNC e-mails may be missing. The e-mails are also sought in a congressional investigation of the alleged politicization of the General Services Administration.

The overreaching of the imperial presidency is stunning in scope. It's as if it truly knows no bounds. This stubborn digging in, in the face of overwhelming public disapproval, seems to me like a hail-Mary pass into heavy coverage. There is no precedent and no reason to believe that any court would uphold this imaginary divine right of the worst president ever.

It is a desperate ploy, and it is certain to fail. I honestly believe that they know they have cashed in all their chits and probably bounced a few checks too boot - the political capital account is overdrawn. All they have left is monkeywrenching...An activity that both Conyers and Leahy long since grow tired of.

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