July 9th, 2007
10:44 AM ET
4 years ago

White House Counsel refuses requests for log of documents

WASHINGTON (CNN) - White House Counsel Fred Fielding sent a letter Monday to Sen. Patrick Leahy and Rep. John Conyers reiterating the White House's refusal to comply with the subpoena for documents related to the U.S. attorneys controversy, White House spokesman Tony Snow told CNN.

Democrats had set Monday morning as a deadline for Fielding to at least provide a log of what documents the White House is withholding and to provide further justification for why the White House is asserting executive privilege.

Snow said Fielding refused on both counts - he will not turn over a log of documents and will point out that the White House previously explained its justification for executive privilege by releasing letters on June 28 from Fielding and the solicitor general.

"We've shown an extraordinary amount of accommodation," said a White House official. "It's clear to us what the Democrats want is a confrontation."

In June, the Judiciary committees in the House and Senate issued subpoenas for former White House employees as the probe into last year's firings of eight U.S. attorneys was ratcheted to a new level.

They were the first subpoenas issued for former White House employees since the U.S. Justice Department dismissed seven of those lawyers in December.

- CNN White House Correspondent Ed Henry

Filed under: Uncategorized
soundoff (26 Responses)
  1. Pete, Tarpon Springs, FL

    “We’ve shown an extraordinary amount of accommodation,” said a White House official. “It’s clear to us what the Democrats want is a confrontation.”
    Pretty much sums up this administration! Never take blame or admit wrong, attack those who question with ridiculous slogans. The B.S. meter has pegged.


    July 9, 2007 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  2. Jon, Sacramento ~ Ca

    This will ultimately be decided in a court of law. We can all surmize the legality or illegality (depending on your love/hate for President Bush) of the Executive Privilege assertion (as the Clinton Administration asserted... and lost).

    How about we all take a few breaths and relax before charging into onslaught of accusations, name-calling, conspiracy theories, etc.

    July 9, 2007 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  3. KW St. Louis MO

    Where are the "R's" now? When Clinton was in office they supoened him for EVERYTHING! They said that executive prelidge did not exist. They even wanted to make the Secret Service and Monica's mother testify. They did testify actually. I guess executive previledge only exists for Republicans. I don't see how any Christian could ever vote Republican.

    July 9, 2007 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  4. Tricia M Charlottetown PEI

    If the White House has nothing to hide on this issue why are they refusing to allow their administrative staff member to give testomony?

    It's as clear as glass...they have much to hide or they wouldn't be making such a big deal and effort over keeping it hidden under wraps!

    Who do they think they are kidding with the Executive Privilidge Nonsense!
    Everything with this White House is kept secret which makes the public think there must be lots of scandal and corruption they are trying to hide.

    July 9, 2007 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  5. Jon, Sacramento ~ Ca

    KW ~ St Louis Missouri,

    News Flash – the secret service and Monica's mother were not part of the executive branch and therefore not immuned from testimony nor be covered by Executive Privilege.

    Executive Privilege has been used by many Presidents (George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, etc). It is the RIGHT of any administration to invoke this privilege – whether with good or poor reasons. The courts decide whether this privilege is appropriate, not the hords of whining complaining partisans.

    Republicans supoened President Clinton and then succesfully impeached him. Seems they had good reasons considering President Clinton lied to a Grand Jury and attempted to obstruct justice.

    Although if things get a little too hot for the Bush Administration – we could just hire Sandy Berger to do another "document sweep" and stuff pages into his socks... again.

    July 9, 2007 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  6. Patrick, Overland Park, Kansas

    Going one step further, the President has claimed executive privilege to keep Harriet Miers and Sara Taylor from testifying about their role in the firing of federal prosecutors. This President is an unbelievable coward, taking advantage and making lite of such important executive powers, not to protect anyone or anything, but to conceal the abuse of is office. He believes that he is left unaccountable for anything he does based on power giving to him by his office that should ONLY be used when the situation calls for them, for the right reasons. His entire presidency is one big track record of his abuse of executive powers, from his use of signing statements to, his claims of national security to spy on citizens of our nation, to our latest abuse, commuting the sentence of a convicted felon just because he knew him. Why did you people vote this monster into office?

    July 9, 2007 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  7. Pixie, Murfreesboro, TN

    Wait? But according to that Logic, Cheney should have had to disclose his energy task force meetings because he's not in the executive branch either(or so he claims).

    Jon, it's a wonder your head doesn't explode from the sheer cognitive dissonance in your position – Clinton lied = should be impeached, Libby lied = should be pardoned, Clinton obstructing justice by TRYING to claim executive privilege = evil, we have a right to know what's going on! , Bush obstructing justice by refusing to comply with subpoenas = just fine and dandy by me! Did anyone hear what CLINTON DID???

    It's no small wonder that you and the other Bush cultists are in the ever shrinking fringe 26%.

    July 9, 2007 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  8. Pete, TS, FL

    How does Clinton did...blah, blah, blah seem to make every action of this administration right?

    How many dead AMERICANS will it take before you will get it and run out and tear the faded "W" stickers from your cars?


    July 9, 2007 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  9. Tom - Dedham, Mass

    I am a Republican who just wishes that many months ago Bush just said, yep we fired them because they don't believe in our philosophy as is OUR RIGHT.

    Yeah, I am going to say it, just like BILL CLINTON could have said when asked why he fired ALL of them. It was his RIGHT.

    That was a one day story and poof it was gone.

    Bush should have told everyone to shove it, but he doesn't have the seeds anymore that I thought he had.

    July 9, 2007 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  10. Jeremy , Gastonia, NC

    What can you say, Stonewalling, pretty summarizes all my feelings. Whether it is about Iraq, the Economy, or attorneys, that is all this administration does is Stonewall.

    July 9, 2007 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  11. Bill W, Coatesville, PA

    Dear Jon,

    Now you know why the people are so upset about the communtation of Scooter Libby. And yes, he will eventually be pardoned. Scooter also lied to a grand jury, and was convicted. Bush pardoned him (commuted his sentece, same thing for all intents and purposes, he won't even pay the fine, his "contributirs" will.) because Bush doesn't want Scooter questioned about things that may come back to implicate Bush and Cheney. Bush's pardoning of Scooter is the same as pardoning himself and Cheney. With this pardon, there is no incentive whatsoever for Scooter to testify and tell what he knows. So Bush effectively used "executive privilege" to cover his own ad Cheney's Butt by pardoning Scooter. He shoul dbe impeached fo rthis the same way Clinton was. But nobody died because of Clinton's lies – not 4,000 US soldiers or countless civilians in a foreign soveriegn nation. That's the difference between Clinton's lies and Bush's.

    July 9, 2007 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  12. Kathie, Spring, TX

    Clinton lied to the grand jury & obstructed justice because of a bj. For this he is impeached by the House and acquited by the Senate. We have a moron in office whose only goal is to line the pockets of big business/oil companies. For this, we terroristically invaded a country, over 4,000 of our men and women have died along with thousands upon thousands of innocent men, women and children. And for what, to prove that his is bigger than his daddies????? Where is this so called moral outrage that was thrusted upon us during Clinton's term????? When will people wake up to what this idiot has done to this country?????

    July 9, 2007 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  13. mark o'boyle, caldwell, nj

    kulhane, in her attempt to explain the white house's position that counselers must be free to express themselves, consistently neglects the very real possibility that they have committed crimes. if she says they are trying to protect their free exchange with the president, she hsould also mention that they could also be hiding criminal acts. I understand that she thinks she has to slant her coverage in favor of bush, but this is dishonest and fools only a few uneducated cranks.

    July 9, 2007 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  14. Jon, Sacramento ~ Ca

    Pixie & Bill,

    What you failed to appreciate is that I did not specifically suggest there was nothing to hide in W's commuting Libby's sentence. Rather – he (Pres Bush) has the right (as did Clinton, Washington, Jefferson, Nixon) to use Executive Privilege. My point was – the COURTS would review and decide its legitimacy... not the whining, complaining hordes of partisans. I have NO DOUBT you are privy to all documents of the White House, you're included in the senate hearings, and have clearance to review all private grand jury testimony. But the rest of us ordinary citizens who believe in rule of law – will allow the courts to be the ruling authority and determine whether Executive Privilege was appropriate or not.

    Bill – do you and Pixie sit on the same Senate Committee? Just seems you have concluded high crimes and misdemeanors have been committed well before anyone in Congress. Hell, Ms Pelosi already publicly stated, "Impeachment is off the table". Hmmmm... wonder why the Democrats just aren't getting the same intelligence briefs of you, pixie, and others calling for impeachment??

    July 9, 2007 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  15. mark o'boyle, caldwell, nj

    i may have sent this gripe to the wrong news organization

    July 9, 2007 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  16. Tom - Dedham, Mass

    "Iraq made commitments after the Gulf War to completely dismantle all weapons of mass destruction, and unfortunately, Iraq has not lived up to its agreement." - Barbara Boxer, November 8, 2002

    "The last UN weapons inspectors left Iraq in October of 1998. We are confident that Saddam Hussein retained some stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons, and that he has since embarked on a crash course to build up his chemical and biological warfare capability. Intelligence reports also indicate that he is seeking nuclear weapons, but has not yet achieved nuclear capability." - Robert Byrd, October 2002

    "There's no question that Saddam Hussein is a threat... Yes, he has chemical and biological weapons. He's had those for a long time. But the United States right now is on a very much different defensive posture than we were before September 11th of 2001... He is, as far as we know, actively pursuing nuclear capabilities, though he doesn't have nuclear warheads yet. If he were to acquire nuclear weapons, I think our friends in the region would face greatly increased risks as would we." - Wesley Clark on September 26, 2002

    "The community of nations may see more and more of the very kind of threat Iraq poses now: a rogue state with weapons of mass destruction, ready to use them or provide them to terrorists. If we fail to respond today, Saddam and all those who would follow in his footsteps will be emboldened tomorrow." - Bill Clinton

    "In the four years since the inspectors left, intelligence reports show that Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical and biological weapons stock, his missile delivery capability, and his nuclear program. He has also given aid, comfort, and sanctuary to terrorists, including Al Qaeda members, though there is apparently no evidence of his involvement in the terrible events of September 11, 2001. It is clear, however, that if left unchecked, Saddam Hussein will continue to increase his capacity to wage biological and chemical warfare, and will keep trying to develop nuclear weapons. Should he succeed in that endeavor, he could alter the political and security landscape of the Middle East, which as we know all too well affects American security." - Hillary Clinton, October 10, 2002

    "I am absolutely convinced that there are weapons...I saw evidence back in 1998 when we would see the inspectors being barred from gaining entry into a warehouse for three hours with trucks rolling up and then moving those trucks out." - Clinton's Secretary of Defense William Cohen in April of 2003

    "Saddam Hussein's regime represents a grave threat to America and our allies, including our vital ally, Israel. For more than two decades, Saddam Hussein has sought weapons of mass destruction through every available means. We know that he has chemical and biological weapons. He has already used them against his neighbors and his own people, and is trying to build more. We know that he is doing everything he can to build nuclear weapons, and we know that each day he gets closer to achieving that goal." - John Edwards, Oct 10, 2002

    "The debate over Iraq is not about politics. It is about national security. It should be clear that our national security requires Congress to send a clear message to Iraq and the world: America is united in its determination to eliminate forever the threat of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction." - John Edwards, Oct 10, 2002

    "I share the administration's goals in dealing with Iraq and its weapons of mass destruction." - Dick Gephardt in September of 2002

    "Iraq does pose a serious threat to the stability of the Persian Gulf and we should organize an international coalition to eliminate his access to weapons of mass destruction. Iraq's search for weapons of mass destruction has proven impossible to completely deter and we should assume that it will continue for as long as Saddam is in power." - Al Gore, 2002

    July 9, 2007 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  17. Ann Brunswick ME

    Is no-one tired of this excuse for Congress not doing something positive for America?

    July 9, 2007 11:05 pm at 11:05 pm |
  18. Tricia M Charlottetown PEI

    Well you just proved my point.
    The present Administration was just as good at Spinning Tales and mongering fear then are they are now.

    Seems to me at that time there was a Scientist who worked in the Labs in Iraq and returned to the US who was interviewed by CNN. He confirmed that there were no Nuclear Weapons in Iraq and he saw no possible signs that Iraq had the capabilities of producing any in the near future. I'm sure the Administration was made privy to his inside information before the first attack on Iraq took place.

    July 10, 2007 12:04 am at 12:04 am |
  19. Tricia M Charlottetown PEI

    From Law & Political Forums On The Web:

    The Constitution nowhere expressly mentions executive privilege. Presidents have long claimed, however, that the constitutional principle of separation of powers implies that the Executive Branch has a privilege to resist certain encroachments by Congress and the judiciary, including some requests for information.

    As Columbia University law professor Michael Dorf points out, the Supreme Court ruled in United States v. Nixon that, “where the President asserts only a generalized need for confidentiality, [executive privilege] must yield to the interests of the government and defendants in a criminal prosecution.”

    Bush is invoking such “a generalized need for confidentiality,” according to a senior administration official this morning:

    “This is not a mere exercise relating to a particular event. This is an exercise in an attempt to protect the prerogatives of the president for this president and for future presidents.”

    As another scholar so aptly stated:

    "Legally, we're in for a fierce fight in the courts. Politically, the White House is now left looking as if it has something to hide, in large part because it almost certainly has something to hide."

    July 10, 2007 12:18 am at 12:18 am |
  20. Will, Kansas City Mo

    Executive privilege, my eye. At what point will the American people say enough is enough? Mr. President, members of Congress and the Supreme Court we give you the privilege to serve at our will, not your whim.

    America, take back your country. Begin to impeach them all and watch how quickly executive privilege turns to anarchy. The power is within our hands to dictate and control the behavior of elected officials.

    Have you ever considered why this American tragedy has continued virtually unchallenged by those constitutionally required to balance and restrain the power of the other branches of government? The simple answer is that they all benefit directly or indirectly from the fallout.

    Tell congress to get the records now or prepare to lose your seat come election time. Impeach them all!

    July 10, 2007 12:37 am at 12:37 am |
  21. Tom - Dedham, Mass

    Hi Tricia M, not sure if you noticed, but everyone of those statements were made by DEMOCRATS who all believed what Bush believed and all are on record saying so when it was politically expedient.

    Germany, China, Russia and the United nations all thought the same thing.

    Hopefully someday we can check Syria, because I, just like William Cohen (Clinton's Secretary of defense) believe that they all were farmed out SOMEWHERE.

    Yeah, I know, just Bush lied.

    July 10, 2007 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  22. Rick, Chicago Illinois

    Tom in Dedham, Mass .. please take a course in debate logic. You can name and quote all the people you want who were also WRONG about Saddam having WMD's – it doesn’t support your case that he had them or that Bush didn't lie too! EVERYBODY who said Saddam had those weapons is a liar until they are FOUND. It can't possibly get any simpler than that.

    You, like Bush, chose to believe what people SAID about Saddam's WMDs. I, on the other hand, (as well as anyone with a brain in their head) chose to believe the results of INSPECTIONS done by people who did the searches – people who would therefore be the very ones to KNOW whether or not Saddam had them.

    By the way, Clinton and his administration had hearsay as intel, while Dubya had the most recent results ... of real-time searches ... telling him Saddam was clean. BIG difference there!

    Something tells me that, after reading this, you'll NEVER use the irrelevant "Well THEY said he had them too!" argument again.

    July 10, 2007 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  23. Tom - Dedham, Mass

    I wrote this real slow so you can understand my "debate logic". Even Clinton's Defense secretary said IN 2003 that the process was faulty as trucks were moving in and out unimpeded and uninspected, where do you think they went and what do you think was in there?

    How many more Un resolutions were we going to allow him tom thumb his nose at and at what cost?

    Bush bleeped up the war, but he at did something that he thought was right to protect the American people.

    At the same time Bush was making the claims of weapons, MANY other countries were as well, does everyone get their info from us, NO.

    Yeah other people were "wrong", but only Bush "lied".

    I am absolutely convinced that there are weapons…I saw evidence back in 1998 when we would see the inspectors being barred from gaining entry into a warehouse for three hours with trucks rolling up and then moving those trucks out.” — Clinton’s Secretary of Defense William Cohen in April of 2003

    July 10, 2007 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  24. Tricia M Charlottetown PEI

    Hi Tom Dedham Mass

    Precisely my point...there is no one no where to confirm that Executive Privilige is or isn't. Just many Politicians who have used it to get out of tough situations and save their skin.

    HOWEVER, having said that, if your going to use it don't abuse it as Bush and Cheney have done. First Cheney was not included in Executive Office, then he was...all due to when it suited hime. And Bush is using the Term for his own PEROGATIVES only which in itself is unethical and void of all purpose that the Privilidge initially stood for.

    On a mute point: I just bet your an Avid Reader and Love Debates? Am I right?

    July 10, 2007 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  25. Rick, Chicago Illinois

    Tom .. GOOD GOD! Your partisan posts are getting less and less logical with each passing day.

    One: I NEVER said only Dubya lied. Is reading comprehension not your strong point?

    Two: This war wasn't about resolutions. It was supported based on the (bogus) "imminent threat from WMDs" angle. PERIOD! Without it, nobody would have supported an invasion except Dubya and his administration's minions – and congressmen who voted for the war have stated as such.

    Three: "he at did something that he thought was right to protect the American people." Umm .. doing the WRONG things for the right reasons is STILL doing the WRONG things. And if just THINKING what you're doing is right all that matters, then I guess Timothy McVeigh did the right thing too eh?

    Four: "At the same time Bush was making the claims of weapons, MANY other countries were as well, does everyone get their info from us, NO." The difference is the other countries only had hearsay to go on, Dubya had the results of actual searches that CONTRADICTED his agenda that he had since the first day in office.

    "The president started a discussion practically on the day that he took power about how to enhance sanctions against Iraq," Rice said.

    July 10, 2007 09:11 pm at 9:11 pm |