The Plank

Bush And Executive Privilege


The New York Times's news analysis of the coming clash between Congress and the White House over the U.S. attorney purge makes repeated mention of how relatively infrequently Bush has asserted executive privilege. To wit:

The Bush administration has few equals in its commitment to a broad conception of executive authority, and it has on several occasions argued for an expansive understanding of executive privilege and similar protections. But legal scholars said that President Bill Clinton asserted the doctrine of executive privilege more often and more vigorously, including in the investigation of his relationship with Monica Lewinsky.
"Clinton clearly was more aggressive in using executive privilege than any of the modern presidents since Eisenhower," said Mark J. Rozell, a law professor at George Mason University and the author of "Executive Privilege: Presidential Power, Secrecy, and Accountability." "Bush has been somewhat reluctant to use it."

But isn't this primarily because, for most of Bush's presidency, he had a compliant Republican Congress that didn't exercise the sort of oversight that would put Bush in the position of having to use it?

--Jason Zengerle

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