Leahy Presses Mukasey For Analysis Of Executive Privilege Request

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), today pressed Attorney General Michael Mukasey on his recent request that the President to claim executive privilege, thereby exempting Mukasey himself from complying with a subpoena to provide documents to a House Committee investigating the leak of undercover CIA operative Valerie Plame’s identity.


In a letter sent to President Bush dated July 15, Mukasey requested that the President assert executive privilege, shielding Mukasey and the Justice Department from fulfilling the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee’s June 16 subpoena for documents detailing the interviews of Vice President Cheney and members of his staff related to the leak of Plame’s identity. 


“Apparently you wrote a letter to the President both requesting that he assert executive privilege and offering him the legal analysis you believe supports such an assertion,” wrote Leahy.  “It appears you are wearing two hats, one as the person to whom the subpoena was directed, and now facing a criminal contempt citation for noncompliance, and a second as the Attorney General purporting to offer objective legal advice.”


Leahy’s questions to Mukasey included whether the Attorney General, himself the identified recipient of the House Committee’s subpoena, recused himself in offering the legal analysis and opinion to the President.


Leahy continued: “This executive privilege claim, and your justification for it, appears to turn the privilege on its head. The purpose of executive privilege is to encourage candid advice to the President, not to cover up what the Vice President and White House staff say to investigating authorities when that information is requested in the course of congressional oversight.”


The full text of Leahy’s letter follows.  A PDF is available here.


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