Balkinization  

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Give Credit Where It's Due

Marty Lederman

Turns out it was none other than David Addington who was the official within the Executive branch questioning the legality of the search of Congressman Jefferson's office:
Vice President Cheney's chief of staff, David S. Addington, was among the leading White House critics of the FBI raid, telling officials at Justice and on Capitol Hill that he believed the search was questionable, several sources familiar with his views said. . . . Addington -- who had worked as a staffer in the House and whose boss, Cheney, once served as a congressman -- quickly emerged as a key internal critic of raiding the office of a sitting House member. He raised heated objections to the Justice Department's legal rationale for the search during a meeting Sunday with McNulty and others, according to several sources.
Perhaps this is simply the function of a very principled view of a very strict regime of separated powers, going in both directions.

Or perhaps Addington -- always on the lookout for threats to Executive prerogatives, no matter how speculative -- is looking ahead, contemplating the impact of this precedent if and when Congress starts subpoenaing documents from the Executive branch . . . .

In any event, just as the Jefferson search was the alarm bell that finally and belatedly awoke the Congress to the notion that perhaps it has some institutional prerogatives worth fighting for, Addington's campaign to return the documents to Rep. Jefferson apparently was the straw that broke another camel's back -- about this matter, high-ranking DOJ officials were willing to stand up to Addington: Reportedly the Attorney General, Deputy Attorney General and Director of the FBI all threatened to resign if Addington prevailed.

Comments:

This is so bizarre. I can't figure out what Addington or the DOJ are thinking.
 

See also the NYT article suggesting the AG was willing to resign if forced to give up the evidence obtained.

Oh, I will try hard not to be snarky.
 

"contemplating the impact of this precedent if and when Congress starts subpoenaing documents from the Executive branch . . . ."

That is, of course, the best case scenario, the branches actually getting into some kind of fight to see which can expose more of the others' wrong doing, instead of the current cozy arrangement of mutual enablement.
 

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