In a protracted battle with the National Archives last year, Vice President Dick Cheney sought to avoid submitting records to the archives by claiming that the office of the vice president is not part of the executive branch. During today’s House Judiciary Committee hearing, Cheney’s chief of staff David Addington reasserted that position, declaring the vice president’s office to be a separate entity that “attached” to the legislative branch:
REP. STEVE COHEN (D-TN): Mr. Addington, what branch are we in?
ADDINGTON: Sir, perhaps the best that can be said is that the vice president belongs neither to the executive nor to the legislative branch, but is attached by the constitution to the latter. […]
COHEN: So he’s a member of the legislative branch?
ADDINGTON: No I said he’s attached to the latter.
The assertion is ridiculous. President Bush and Cheney have themselves repeatedly tied the office of the President and Vice President together in the executive branch, not to mention the White House and the Senate websites. In fact, there is video showing Cheney lauding the strength of the vice presidency, asserting that “the vice president’s become an important part of the administration of the executive branch“:
In fact, in 2001 Cheney sought to avoid a lawsuit over his energy task force by claiming that a congressional probe “would unconstitutionally interfere with the functioning of the executive branch.”
Despite Politico’s Mike Allen’s claim last June that Addington and Cheney were “throwing in the towel on the claim that the vice president is distinct from the executive branch,” the next month Cheney continued to insist that the Vice President’s office is a “unique creature.”