Today was the deadline for the White House “to turn over documents linked to Harriet E. Miers, the former White House counsel, and Sara M. Taylor, the former White House political director” to Congress. But instead, the White House this morning “asserted executive privilege” and “rejected lawmakers’ demands for documents that could shed light on the firings of federal prosecutors.” White House counsel Fred Fielding’s letter to Congress:
The doctrine of executive privilege exists, at least in part, to protect such communications from compelled disclosure to Congress, especially where, as here, the president’s interests in maintaining confidentiality far outweigh Congress’s interests in obtaining deliberative White House communications.
Further, it remains unclear precisely how and why your committees are unable to fulfill your legislative and oversight interests without the unfettered requests you have made in your subpoenas.
UPDATE: Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) responds: “This is a further shift by the Bush Administration into Nixonian stonewalling and more evidence of their disdain for our system of checks and balances.”
UPDATE II:: House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers (D-MI): “The executive privilege assertion is unprecedented in its breadth and scope, and even includes documents that the Adminstration previously offered to provide as part of their ‘take it or leave it’ proposal.”
UPDATE III: White House Counsel Fred Fielding’s letter asserting executive privilege is HERE.