The Office of the Vice President has asserted that Dick Cheney “is not an entity within the Executive Branch” in order to thwart an investigation into his handling of classified material. But there was once a time when Cheney prevented investigations by claiming they interfered with the Executive Branch.
Dana Milbank reports today in the Washington Post:
Cheney has refused to comply with an order governing the care of classified documents; his office concluded that the order does not apply because he is not “an entity within the executive branch.”
That’s quite opposite the argument Cheney made in 2001, when he said that a congressional probe into the workings of his energy task force “would unconstitutionally interfere with the functioning of the executive branch.” Cheney has, in effect, declared himself to be neither fish nor fowl but an exotic, extraconstitutional beast who answers to no one.
Milbank is referring to an instance in 2001 when GAO chief David Walker sent a “demand letter” for information and documents related to Cheney’s energy task force meetings. In response, Cheney wrote a letter to Congress informing lawmakers “of certain actions undertaken by an agent of the Congress, Comptroller General David M. Walker, which exceed his lawful authority and which, if given effect, would unconstitutionally interfere with the functioning of the executive branch.”
Appearing on ABC’s Nightline on July 25, 2001, Cheney said, “This request that in fact we’re supposed to provide [Congress] with this information with respect to…those meetings in the Executive Branch between the Vice President and other individuals strikes me as inappropriate.” Last night, The Daily Show aired the footage of Cheney’s remarks. Watch it: