What is executive privilege?
Executive privilege is claimed when members of the executive branch of government want to resist subpoenas and other interventions by the legislative and judicial branches of government. Republican House members want Attorney General Eric Holder to turn over documents about Operation Fast and Furious. His refusal resulted in a committee voting Holder in contempt of Congress.
The U.S. Supreme Court has confirmed the legitimacy of executive privilege in the past, but it’s only a qualified privilege; prosecutors must show why material is essential to their case.
This is the first time the Obama administration has invoked executive privilege. The President has been critical of his predecessor, George W. Bush, who claimed the privilege six times. President Clinton claimed it 14 times.
Executive privilege is meant to protect material that may be crucial to national security. But there is sometimes a suspicion by any president’s political opponents and the news media, that a president is hiding something for other reasons.
Our thought for today is from Richard Nixon:
“When the president does it, that means it is not illegal.”