Executive Overreach

6 comments April 17th, 2007at 08:56pm Posted by Eli


The House Judiciary Committee, chaired by Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), wants to get its hands on those RNC-issued email accounts used by Karl Rove and other White House personnel. Congressional investigators want to know about Rove’s and his deputy’s involvement in the U.S. attorney firings. But the White House insists that it review the emails first, before handing anything over to Democrats. Last week, Conyers warned the RNC not to do that, saying that it would be “an unjustified delay” and “potentially… an obstruction of our investigation.”

And today, in a letter to the RNC, the White House made their position clear: you have to give them to us first. There “exists a clear and indisputable Executive Branch interest” in the emails on the RNC-issued accounts, wrote Emmet Flood, Special Counsel to the President.

Okay, I’m not a lawyer, so can someone help me out? What the hell legal principle are they using here??? Does “Because the President says so” really have the force of law?

Entry Filed under: Bush,Corruption/Cronyism,Democrats,Republicans,Rove


  • 1. LJ/Aquaria  |  April 17th, 2007 at 9:17 pm

    It’s not a legal principle at all, it’s a dance on a tightrope. Notice that tthey did not explicitly invoke executive privilege. Curious that they didn’t try the national security gambit, either. They can’t. If they tried either, they give lie to all their blustering that the RNC emails are only political.

    They can’t involve executive privilege or national security and not expose that they were using the RNC system for government business.

    All they have is bluster, and they know it. So they’re buying time to find something, anything to escape this box Conyers has put them in.

    Conyers just called checkmate on their asses, pure and simple.

  • 2. virgotex  |  April 17th, 2007 at 9:17 pm

    The WH letter cites two things: the legal interests of the Executive, and possible issues with the Presidential Records Act.

    from archives.gov:

    Specifically, the Presidential Records Act:

    * Defines and states public ownership of the records.
    * Places the responsibility for the custody and management of incumbent Presidential records with the President.
    * Allows the incumbent President to dispose of records that no longer have administrative, historical, informational, or evidentiary value, once he has obtained the views of the Archivist of the United States on the proposed disposal.
    * Requires that the President and his staff take all practical steps to file personal records separately from Presidential records.
    * Establishes a process for restriction and public access to these records. Specifically, the PRA allows for public access to Presidential records through the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) beginning five years after the end of the Administration, but allows the President to invoke as many as six specific restrictions to public access for up to twelve years. The PRA also establishes procedures for Congress, courts, and subsequent Administrations to obtain special access to records that remain closed to the public, following a thirty-day notice period to the former and current Presidents..
    * Requires that Vice-Presidential records are to be treated in the same way as Presidential records.

  • 3. LJ/Aquaria  |  April 17th, 2007 at 9:19 pm

    Oh, and if they have used the RNC system to discuss national security issues… They’re beyond toast.

  • 4. LJ/Aquaria  |  April 17th, 2007 at 9:22 pm

    virgotex: But that’s for the system already in place to comply with the PRA, to document the government business of the White House. How would that apply to a separate system set up to deal with the political dealings? That’s where they’re in trouble.

  • 5. Eli  |  April 17th, 2007 at 9:26 pm

    Places the responsibility for the custody and management of incumbent Presidential records with the President.

    Then the president either abdicated that responsibility, or else these are not Presidential records.

  • 6. virgotex  |  April 17th, 2007 at 11:12 pm

    you got me, LJ/Aquaria. It seems like bit of a reach, but that’s what their letter said.

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