Letter to the Editor

The question of executive privilege

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

To assert the issue of executive privilege, newly arrived White House Counsel Pat Cipollone hired 17 lawyers to defend this issue. By law the cost of lawyers hired for issues dealing with campaigns, the presidency, conspiracy and obstruction will be covered by U.S. taxpayers. If they are asked to do anything illegal they must refuse. A number of lawyers have already left the administration for undisclosed reasons.

Mr. Cipollone's assignment included defense of the Presidentís authority to authorize building of a wall at the Southern border and control of the release of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's findings to Congress. Their position being that Mueller must first release all the information to the President and he would decide what could be released to Congress.

Although the U.S. Constitution does not list the term "Congressional oversight," oversight is implied in the listed array of enumerated powers of the U.S. Congress.

The first time "legislative oversight" appeared in U.S. law was in the Legislative Reorganization Act of 1946. It was later reinforced by the Legislative Reorganization Act of 1970.

The legitimacy of executive privilege has already been tested in the Supreme Court case United Sates v Nixon in which Nixon lost and the tapes were released. The Court ruled that this is a qualified privilege and the party exercising oversight must make a sufficient showing that the issue at hand is essential to the justice of the case.

Chief Justice Warren Burger further stated that executive privilege would most effectively apply when the oversight of the executive would impair national security concerns. Nether issue can reasonably pass the test of national security danger. To allow the President to withhold the information from Congress that would incriminate him can pass no test of reasonableness. With such an overwhelming interest by Congress and the U.S. public, it would seem likely that, if tested, the Court would agree to release Muller's report.

New control of the House of Representatives and the final release of Special Counsel Mueller's report will bring new focus to these issues.

Robert Sneitzer

Spirit Lake