Friday, July 20, 2007

Republicans On Executive Privilege Claims (For Clinton)

"Surely they understand it's not going to be well-received," Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott told NBC's "Meet the Press." "I think it will damage (their) credibility. It looks like they are hiding something."

"Use of that is reserved just for national security or clearly national interest issues when there's a conversation between the president and his aides, but in this case, for instance, (White House aide) Sidney Blumenthal is not even an attorney. He can't even say there's an attorney-client relationship," Lott said.

"What have they got to hide if they're asking for executive privilege? Executive privilege is reserved for national security issues, not for personal conduct," the Texas Republican said. "The consequences that are coming out of this will be permanent consequences in denigrating the office of the presidency."

Evidently, Mr. Clinton wants to shield virtually any communications that take place within the White House compound on the theory that all such talk contributes in some way, shape or form to the continuing success and harmony of an administration. Taken to its logical extreme, that position would make it impossible for citizens to hold a chief executive accountable for anything. He would have a constitutional right to cover up. --Tony Snow--

GOP COMMITTE CHAIR REP. DAN BURTON: Yes. I have no problem with that, and I don't think the speaker does either.

We're going to continue on it until we get the truth for the American people, or at least do our dead-level best to get the truth for them.

You know, the president could solve a lot of this problem if he wouldn't hide behind executive privilege, if he'd just come out and tell the American people the truth.

This morning on Fox News Sunday, host Chris Wallace aired archived video of Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) calling on the Clinton White House to testify before Congress under oath. Here’s what McConnell said on June 16, 1996:

I think the testimony obviously ought to be sworn testimony. And we ought to go all the way into this and take as much time as we can to reassure the American people that this sort of thing’s not going to happen again in the future.

Challenged with this quote today, McConnell said, “With regard to White House officials, it will be up to the President to decide frankly whether and when and under what circumstances members of his [own White House staff] testify.”

Wallace questioned why the same rules McConnell applied to the Clinton White House shouldn’t apply to the Bush White House. McConnell offered that he was merely a Senator in 1996 and that the President made the ultimate decision. Wallace said, “But you’re still a Senator so the question is: do you call on this President to do the same thing?” McConnell responded, “I’m calling on this President to do what he thinks is appropriate.

: House Majority Whip Tom DeLay (R.-Tex.) and Sen. John Ashcroft (R.Mo.) have introduced legislation to require the President to notify Congress when he uses executive privilege to withhold information in court proceedings. The two expressed disgust at what they consider Clinton's abuse of the privilege in order to delay cases. Their bill also mandates faster court review of executive privilege claims and allows direct appeal to the Supreme Court to reduce the amount of obstruction that can be caused by frivolous privilege claims.