White House Obstructed Plame Investigation

… Bush sidetracked a congressional probe by wrongly invoking executive privilege, according to a draft bipartisan congressional report released today.

This June, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee served a subpoena to the Justice Department for reports of interviews between FBI agents and Bush and Cheney.

… The White House objected to the committee’s subpoenas, and the panel dropped its efforts to obtain the Bush transcript, the draft report said. But the committee said it reiterated its request for the Cheney report, even threatening a contempt citation for Attorney General Michael Mukasey if the document was not produced.

In response, the White House asserted its executive privilege to withhold the document, according to the panel’s draft report. The White House’s argument, crafted by Mukasey, asserted among other things that the report “summarize[d] deliberations” among top aides preparing advice for Bush himself, and therefore is protected by the executive privilege, the report related. The power is meant to ensure presidents can receive confidential advice.

The panel disagreed, calling the move “legally unprecedented” and “inappropriate.”

“There is no precedent holding that summaries of presidential conversations given to third parties — as opposed to the original conversations themselves — are subject to claims of executive privilege,” it wrote in its report. 

… The panel also said it was “puzzled” by the White House’s use of executive privilege to shield documents relating to Cheney, since the vice president himself had earlier argued he was not a member of the executive branch.

via ABC News: Lawmakers: Bush Stymied Plame Probe

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