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Specter Proposes Special Prosecutor To Investigate U.S. Attorney Scandal

By Amanda Terkel on July 24, 2007 at 1:49 pm

"Specter Proposes Special Prosecutor To Investigate U.S. Attorney Scandal"

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The Bush administration has repeatedly cited executive privilege claims to block Congress from investigating the U.S. attorney scandal. Most recently, the White House said 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.”

Today, Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) noted that under Bush’s broad claim of executive privilege, “the president’s word stands and the constitutional authority and responsibility for congressional oversight is gone.”

He added that one alternative he has been “exploring” is the appointment of a special prosecutor. “The attorney general has the authority to appoint a special prosecutor,” said Specter. “You’re recused, but somebody else could do it. You’re recused because you know all of the principals. You have a conflict of interest. But doesn’t the president have an identical conflict of interest?” Watch it:

[flv http://video.thinkprogress.org/2007/07/specterspprosecutor.320.240.flv]

Georgetown Law Professor Neal Katyal, who advocates appointing a special prosecutor in this case, writes that the Bush administration “of course, has everything to fear from independent investigations, as Lewis Libby discovered. But that, ultimately, is what our system is about.”

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Transcript:

Now, if that forecloses a determination of whether executive privilege has been properly imposed, then the president in that manner can stymie congressional oversight by simply saying there is executive privilege. Since we can’t take it to the court, the president’s word stands and the constitutional authority and responsibility for congressional oversight is gone.

Now, that is carrying this controversy to really an incredible level. If that is to happen, the president can run the government as he chooses, answer no questions, say it’s executive privilege. You can’t go to court, and the president’s word stands.

Now, we’ve been exploring some alternatives. And I’ll be asking you about them.

The attorney general has the authority to appoint a special prosecutor. You’re recused, but somebody else could do it. You’re recused because you know all of the principals. You have a conflict of interest.

But doesn’t the president have an identical conflict of interest?

Can the president foreclose the Congress for moving ahead and making an effort at having a judicial determination as to the propriety of the claim of executive privilege?

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