FREE ELECTRONIC LIBRARY - Dissertations, online materials

Pages:   || 2 |

«Assertion of Executive Privilege Concerning the Special Counsel’s Interviews of the Vice President and Senior White House Staff It is legally ...»

-- [ Page 1 ] --

Assertion of Executive Privilege Concerning the

Special Counsel’s Interviews of the Vice President

and Senior White House Staff

It is legally permissible for the President to assert executive privilege in response to a congressional

subpoena for reports of Department of Justice interviews with the Vice President and senior White

House staff taken during the Department’s investigation by Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald into

the disclosure of Valerie Plame Wilson’s identity as an employee of the Central Intelligence Agency.

July 15, 2008



Dear Mr. President:

I am writing to request that you assert executive privilege with respect to Department of Justice documents subpoenaed by the Committee on Government Reform of the House of Representatives (the “Committee”).

The subpoenaed documents concern the Department’s investigation by Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald into the disclosure of Valerie Plame Wilson’s identity as an employee of the Central Intelligence Agency. The documents include Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”) reports of the Special Counsel’s interviews with the Vice President and senior White House staff, as well as handwritten notes taken by FBI agents during some of these interviews. 1 The subpoena also seeks notes taken by the Deputy National Security Advisor during conversations with the Vice President and senior White House officials and other documents provided by the White House to the Special Counsel during the course of the investigation. Many of the subpoenaed materials reflect frank and candid deliberations among senior presidential advisers, including the Vice President, the White House Chief of Staff, the National Security Advisor, and the White House Press Secretary. The deliberations concern a number of sensitive issues, including the preparation of your January 2003 State of the Union Address, possible responses to public assertions challenging the accuracy of a statement in the address, and the decision to send Ms. Plame’s husband, Ambassador Joseph Wilson, to Niger in 2002 to investigate Iraqi efforts to acquire yellowcake uranium. Some of the Although the subpoena also sought the FBI report of the Special Counsel’s interview with you, the Committee has effectively suspended that portion of the subpoena. See Letter for Michael B.

Mukasey, Attorney General, from Henry A. Waxman, Chairman, House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform at 1 (July 8, 2008) (“July 8 Committee Letter”) (“[T]he Committee will not seek access to the report of the FBI interview of President Bush at this time.”). Accordingly, the report of your interview is not among the materials over which I am requesting that you assert executive privilege.

–  –  –

subpoenaed documents also contain information about communications between you and senior White House officials.

The Department has made substantial efforts to accommodate the Committee’s oversight interests concerning the Plame matter by producing or making available for the Committee’s review a large number of FBI reports of interviews with senior White House, State Department and Central Intelligence Agency officials.

In view of the heightened confidentiality interests attendant to White House deliberations, we consider our willingness to make the reports of interviews with senior White House staff available for the Committee’s review, subject to limited redactions, to be an extraordinary accommodation. On June 24, 2008, we informed the Committee that we anticipate offering to make the remaining reports of interviews with senior White House staff available for Committee review on the same basis as the reports previously reviewed by Committee staff. See Letter for Henry A. Waxman, Chairman, House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, from Keith B. Nelson, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General, Office of Legislative Affairs at 1 (June 24, 2008) (“June 24 Department Letter”).

The only reports the Department has not expressed a willingness to make available for review are those for the interviews of you and the Vice President, because of heightened separation of powers concerns.

Despite these substantial efforts at accommodation, the Committee insists that the Department provide it with unredacted copies of all of the subpoenaed documents except your interview report. In my view, such a production would chill deliberations among future White House officials and impede future Department of Justice criminal investigations involving official White House conduct.

Accordingly, for the reasons discussed below, it is my considered legal judgment that it would be legally permissible for you to assert executive privilege with respect to the subpoenaed documents, and I respectfully request that you do so.


It is well established that the doctrine of executive privilege protects a number of Executive Branch confidentiality interests. Preserving the confidentiality of internal White House deliberations related to official actions by the President lies at the core of the privilege. See, e.g., In re Sealed Case, 121 F.3d 729, 752–53 (D.C. Cir. 1997) (addressing presidential communications component of executive privilege); Assertion of Executive Privilege With Respect to Clemency Decision, 23 Op. O.L.C. 1, 1–2 (1999) (opinion of Attorney General Janet Reno) (same). As the Supreme Court recognized in United States v. Nixon, 418 U.S. 683 (1974), there is a necessity for protection of the public interest in candid, objective, and even blunt or harsh opinions in Presidential decisionmaking. A President and those who assist him must be free to explore alternaAssertion of Executive Privilege Concerning Special Counsel’s Interviews tives in the process of shaping policies and making decisions and to do so in a way many would be unwilling to express except privately.

These... considerations justify[] a presumptive privilege for Presidential communications. The privilege is fundamental to the operation of Government and inextricably rooted in the separation of powers under the Constitution.

Id. at 708.

Executive privilege also extends to all Executive Branch deliberations, even when the deliberations do not directly implicate presidential decisionmaking. As the Supreme Court has explained, there is a “valid need for protection of communications between high Government officials and those who advise and assist them in the performance of their manifold duties; the importance of this confidentiality is too plain to require further discussion.” Nixon, 418 U.S. at 705; see also Assertion of Executive Privilege With Respect to Prosecutorial Documents, 25 Op.

O.L.C. 1, 2 (2001) (opinion of Attorney General John D. Ashcroft) (“The Constitution clearly gives the President the power to protect the confidentiality of Executive Branch deliberations.”); Assertion of Executive Privilege With Respect to Clemency Decision, 23 Op. O.L.C. at 2 (explaining that executive privilege extends to deliberative communications within the Executive Branch); Assertion of Executive Privilege in Response to a Congressional Subpoena, 5 Op. O.L.C. 27, 30 (1981) (opinion of Attorney General William French Smith) (assertion of executive privilege to protect deliberative materials held by the Department of Interior). 2 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 The Justice Department’s long-standing position finds strong support in various court decisions recognizing that the deliberative process privilege protects internal government deliberations from disclosure in civil litigation. See, e.g., NLRB v. Sears, Roebuck & Co., 421 U.S. 132, 151 (1975) (“Manifestly, the ultimate purpose of this long-recognized privilege is to prevent injury to the quality of agency decisions.”); Landry v. FDIC, 204 F.3d 1125, 1135–36 (D.C. Cir. 2000) (describing how agencies may assert the “deliberative process” component of executive privilege in litigation); Dow Jones & Co. v. Dep’t of Justice, 917 F.2d 571, 573–74 (D.C. Cir. 1990) (describing the “‘deliberative process’ or ‘executive’ privilege” as an “ancient privilege... predicated on the recognition that the quality of administrative decision-making would be seriously undermined if agencies were forced to operate in a fishbowl”) (internal quotation marks omitted).

Opinions of the Office of Legal Counsel in Volume 32

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, “[h]uman 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.” Nixon, 418 U.S. at 705.

Moreover, because the subpoenaed documents are from law enforcement files, the law enforcement component of executive privilege is also implicated. The President may invoke executive privilege to preserve the integrity and independence of criminal investigations and prosecutions. See Response to Congressional Requests for Information Regarding Decisions Made Under the Independent Counsel Act, 10 Op. O.L.C. 68, 75–78 (1986) (“Independent Counsel Act”) (explaining the Executive Branch’s authority to withhold open and closed law enforcement files from Congress); Prosecution for Contempt of Congress of an Executive Branch Official Who Has Asserted a Claim of Executive Privilege, 8 Op. O.L.C. 101, 117 (1984) (“Since the early part of the 19th century, Presidents have steadfastly protected the confidentiality and integrity of investigative files from untimely, inappropriate, or uncontrollable access by the other branches, particularly the legislature.”); Assertion of Executive Privilege in Response to Congressional Demands for Law Enforcement Files, 6 Op. O.L.C. 31, 32–33 (1982) (same concerning law enforcement files of the Environmental Protection Agency); Position of the Executive Department Regarding Investigative Reports, 40 Op. Att’y Gen. 45, 49 (1941) (same concerning investigative files of the Federal Bureau of Investigation). Although the law enforcement component of executive privilege is more commonly implicated when Congress seeks materials about an open criminal investigation, the separation of powers necessity of protecting the integrity and effectiveness of the prosecutorial process continues after an investigation closes. Independent Counsel Act, 10 Op. O.L.C. at 77. The Department has long recognized that executive privilege protects documents related to a closed criminal investigation where disclosure might “hamper prosecutorial decision-making in future cases” or undermine the Executive Branch’s “long-term institutional interest in maintaining the integrity of the prosecutorial decision-making process.” Id.

Even though the Special Counsel’s investigation and the Libby prosecution are closed matters, the law enforcement component of executive privilege is applicable here because the Committee’s subpoena raises serious separation of powers concerns related to the integrity and effectiveness of future law enforcement investigations by the Department of Justice. I have a general concern about the prospect of committees of Congress obtaining confidential records from Justice Department criminal investigative files for the purpose of addressing highly

Assertion of Executive Privilege Concerning Special Counsel’s Interviews

politicized issues in public committee hearings. More specifically, I am concerned about the subpoena’s impact on White House cooperation with future Justice Department criminal investigations. As the Department has explained to the Committee, there “is an admirable tradition, extending back through Administrations of both political parties, of full cooperation by the White House with criminal investigations.” June 24 Department Letter at 2. In keeping with this tradition, you, the Vice President and White House staff cooperated voluntarily with the Special Counsel’s investigation, agreeing to informal interviews outside the presence of the grand jury. Were future presidents, vice presidents or White House staff to perceive that such voluntary cooperation would create records that would likely be made available to Congress (and then possibly disclosed publicly outside of judicial proceedings such as a trial), there would be an unacceptable risk that such knowledge could adversely impact their willingness to cooperate fully and candidly in a voluntary interview. They might insist, alternatively, on disclosing information only pursuant to a grand jury subpoena in order to ensure the secrecy protections of Rule 6(e) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure.

Thus, if the Department were to release copies of interview reports with the Vice President or senior White House staff, this precedent could discourage voluntary cooperation with future Department criminal investigations involving official White House actions. Such a result would significantly impair the Department’s ability to conduct future law enforcement investigations that would benefit from full White House cooperation.

Accordingly, for the reasons discussed above, I believe that the subpoenaed materials fall within the scope of executive privilege.


Pages:   || 2 |

Similar works:

«Harmonising Substantive Rules for the Use of Securities Held with Intermediaries as Collateral : the UNIDROIT Project Philipp PAECH * 1. – INTRODUCTION 1 In today’s capital markets, securities worth several hundreds of billions of Euros, U S Dollars or Yen are provided every day as collateral to creditors. As the capital market step by step becomes global, an increasing part of securities collateral is provided cross-border, that is, collateral taker and provider are situated in different...»

«THE MISBEGOTTEN JUDICIAL RESISTANCE TO THE DAUBERT REVOLUTION David E. Bernstein* INTRODUCTION Until approximately thirty years ago, expert witnesses hired by parties to litigation in the United States could testify almost without limit about any relevant issue within the scope of their expertise.1 Beginning in the mid1980s, federal law rapidly and radically evolved until by 2000 all expert testimony needed to pass a reliability test before it could be deemed admissible.2 Much of this evolution...»


«BETWEEN REPARATIONS, HALF TRUTHS AND IMPUNITY: THE DIFFICULT BREAK WITH THE LEGACY OF THE DICTATORSHIP IN BRAZIL* Glenda Mezarobba Like many other countries in the region, Brazil was also governed in the second half of last century by military forces that usurped power and operated within an ideological structure based on the doctrine of “National Security”, and against the international backdrop of the Cold War. The Brazilian dictatorship was structured to eliminate domestic subversion...»

«DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT HUD Building, 451 Seventh Street SW 20410, phone (202) 708–6417, http://www.hud.gov ANDREW CUOMO, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development; born in Queens, NY on December 6, 1957; B.A., Fordham University, 1979; law degree, Albany Law School, 1982; campaign manager for Governor Mario M. Cuomo, 1982; served as special assistant to the governor; served as an assistant district attorney in Manhattan; partner, law firm of Blutrich, Falcone and Miller;...»

«UNIVERSITY OF NAIROBI LAW JOURNAL Journal of the School of Law, University of Nairobi EDITORIAL BOARD Editor-in-Chief Smith Otieno Managing Editor Research Editor Eva Kimani Leon Ndekei Production Editor Marketing Editor Patrick Nguri Josephine Warui Associate Editors Oliver Erupe Athena Morgan Dennis Mutungi Ian Gacheru Carolyn Ngala Johnson Ondari Wambui Njehu Consulting Editor Dr. Attiya Waris This Journal is protected under the Berne Convention and all the copyright laws applicable in...»

«Climate Change and Migration in Asia and the Pacific Draft Edition Climate Change and Migration in Asia and the Pacific Draft Edition ©2011 Asian Development Bank The views expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) or its Board of Governors or the governments they represent. ADB does not guarantee the accuracy of the data included in this publication and accepts no responsibility for any...»

«Sermon #1346 Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit 1 GUILE FORSAKEN WHEN GUILT IS FORGIVEN NO. 1346 A SERMON DELIVERED ON LORD’S-DAY EVENING, MARCH 25, 1877, BY C. H. SPURGEON, AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON. “Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputes not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile.” Psalm 32:2. THE only blessing the law can give, it bestows on those who do no iniquity and walk perfectly in God’s ways—the gospel alone has a blessing for the guilty. Upon...»

«Harris Manchester College Oxford University Oxford, England Study Abroad Program Information Package Spring 2017 Semester Important Dates (these dates are approximate and subject to change): February 22, 2016 January 4 January 15, 2017*   BU Law application deadline Approximate dates for Intensive, two-week introductory course on the British Legal Mid-March 2016 System  Selections made January 18 March 11, 2017*  October 2016 Approximate spring 2016 semester dates  Visiting...»

«Hydrogel Vision Corporation Quality Systems & Quality Assurance Manual Document Title: Fitting Guide – Clarity H2O Revision Level: 1 Document ID: QCFQ-032 Revision Date: 1/2010 Page 1 PROFESSIONAL FITTING GUIDE FOR THE CLARITY H2O® (hioxifilcon D) Soft Contact Lens for Daily Wear CAUTION: FEDERAL LAW RESTRICTS THIS DEVICE TO SALE BY OR ON THE ORDER OF A LICENSED PRACTITIONER Please read this guide carefully and follow the instruction so that you receive full satisfaction from your lenses....»

«Commencement Exercises SUMMER SESSION 1952 THE UNIVERSITY OF NOTRE DAME NOTRE DAME, INDIAN A THE GRADUATE ScHOOL THE CoLLEGE oF ARTs AND LETTERS THE CoLLEGE oF SciENCE THE CoLLEGE OF ENGINEERING THE CoLLEGE oF LAw THE CoLLEGE OF CoMMERCE University Drill Hall At 8:00 p. m. (Central Daylight Time) August 8, 1952 PROGRAM Processional by the University Orchestra Conferring of Degrees, by Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, C.S.C. President of the University Commencement Address, by Mr. Bernard J....»

«Commercial & Civil Law Practice Group CHAIRED BY Peter Booth Speakers Mark Hebblewhite  “Some Ethical Issues as they arise in Mediation” Karen Le Faucheur  “’Without prejudice' Can you claim the privilege?” David Langmead  “Employment bullying can cast shadows but don't jump yet” 14th August, 2014 @ Monash University Law Chambers Peter Booth B Sc (Hons); LL.B; LLM.  Chambers: Floor 28, Aickin Chambers  Year Admitted: 11th April 1985  Year Signed Bar Roll: 30th...»

<<  HOME   |    CONTACTS
2016 www.dissertation.xlibx.info - Dissertations, online materials

Materials of this site are available for review, all rights belong to their respective owners.
If you do not agree with the fact that your material is placed on this site, please, email us, we will within 1-2 business days delete him.