Executive Privilege to Silence McClellan?

Congress may ask Scott McClellan to testify, but what will the effect of that testimony have on the Presidential race in the Fall? Of course, the White House, through Dana Perino, is making noises about preventing such testimony on the basis of “executive privilege.” Isn’t Scotty a private citizen now?


Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

It’s beginning to look like the attacks from commentators on FauxNews, from people still in the White House, from Rush and his dittoheads, from Karl Rove and Bob Dole. . . it’s beginning to look like these attacks are not going to be enough for the Republicans. The Democrats who run the House, including Reps. Conyers and Wexler, are talking of having Scott McClellan testify before the House about revelations in his book. The White House appears to have something to say about that. But first. . .

What good is Scott McClellan’s testimony going to be? If you really want to get to the bottom of the deception and criminality that has been the routine at the Bush White House, all the testimony in the world from Scott McClellan isn’t going to get you there. But does such testimony have value in relation to the election in November? Surely the Democrats would like the election to be a referendum on the Bush Administration, and hearings would write this story large, though if Scotty doesn’t testify to anything that isn’t in his book, it’s just a ramping up of what’s already out there. On the other side, the GOP attack machine is energized by this story like they haven’t been in the last several months. Is it wise to wake them up? I don’t have the answer to that. But I suppose I’d approach this based on how such hearings starring Scott McClellan would relate to the candidacies of Barack Obama and John McCain.

If the McClellan testimony focuses like a laser on the lead-up to the War in Iraq, and the ways in which the White House made the case through PR and what Scott McClellan calls the “permanent campaign,” then the hearings might just have a bearing on the Presidential race in the Fall. There’s nothing that separates Barack Obama and John McCain more than Obama being against the War in Iraq from its inception and John McCain carrying water for the Bushies on that same subject. Sure, there would be little in the way of testimony directly about John FlipFlopTalker McCain, but America is tired of this war. Still, I’m betting the wingers and independents who were fooled by Bush’s permanent campaigning about the War in Iraq are not likely to take kindly to being reminded that they were so duped. Yeah, I’m unsure whether this testimony would help or not.

Be that as it may, the testimony may not happen, as Dana Perino has left open the door that the White House may bar such testimony on the grounds of Executive Privelege, even though they vetted McClellan’s book on such grounds already. From ThinkProgress (they’ve got video goodness, as usual):

QUESTION: Could the White House block him from testifying, if he wanted to testify? Or how does that work?

PERINO: Conceivably?

QUESTION: Yes.

PERINO: Hypothetically, which I’m not supposed to answer a hypothetical, yes, I think so. The law would allow for that. But by saying that, I’m not suggesting that that’s what would happen or not happen.

I think this is a riot. The White House has already vetted the book on the topic of executive privilege, according to quotes from Perino in the Atlanta Journal Constitution:

Perino also said White House lawyers routinely had reviewed the book before publication “for any possible classified information or any needs for executive privilege to be asserted.”

“None of them were in this case,” she said, adding, “So we’ve known for a little bit of time that this was coming.”

So it looks like they’ll assert executive privilege just to get this thing off the news. After all, they’ve already vetted everything in McClellan’s book, so what else is there to assert that is “executive privilege.” This seems a whiney excuse to get the whole thing out of the news to me.

Saturday, May 31st, 2008 by Steven Reynolds |

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