The White House pulled out the old executive privilege trump card at the last minute today to avert a House government oversight committee vote to hold Administration officials in contempt of Congress.
Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA) has announced that EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson and Susan Dudley, administrator for information and regulatory affairs at the White House, have invoked executive privilege as the basis for not complying with subpoenas from Waxman’s committee seeking documents about new smog requirements and a decision blocking California greenhouse gas limits.
Waxman postponed the vote on contempt in order to determine whether the statements of executive privilege were valid. “But,” he emphasized, “to date I have not seen a valid instance of their executive privilege”:
I don’t think we’ve had a situation like this since Richard Nixon was president. When the President of the United States, may have been involved in acting contrary to law and the evidence that would determine that question for Congress, in exercising our oversight, is being blocked by an assertion of executive privilege. I would hope and expect this administration would not be making this assertion without a valid basis for it, but to date I have not seen a valid instance of their executive privilege.
We’ll have video of Waxman’s statements coming shortly.