Bush administration officials unveiled a bold new assertion of executive authority yesterday in the dispute over the firing of nine U.S. attorneys, saying that the Justice Department will never be allowed to pursue contempt charges initiated by Congress against White House officials once the president has invoked executive privilege.
Mark J. Rozell, a professor of public policy at George Mason University who has written a book on executive-privilege issues, called the administration's stance "astonishing.".
"That's a breathtakingly broad view of the president's role in this system of separation of powers," Rozell said. "What this statement is saying is the president's claim of executive privilege trumps all."
Strange move. It really does seem like another "Bring it on" move from Bush. Given his and his administration's level of support right now (and for the last few years), it doesn't seem like the brightest move. And they defended the stance by pointing to a similar conflict in 1984 - a conflict that administration effectively lost, if not in the courts then by the turning over of the documents that Congress had demanded. How can they expect to win this?
Waxman added: "I suppose the next step would be just disbanding the Justice Department."
Well, there's always that.