Invoking executive privilege for the official party planner
The White House today denied a congressional request to have Social Secretary Desiree Rogers testify about the night the now-infamous party crashers attended a state dinner without invitation.
When pressed on the issue, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs hinted that even if Rogers is subpoenaed to appear before Congress, the White House would stand behind executive privilege to block her testimony.
Not only is it a ridiculous notion that the social secretary’s duties have anything to do with national secrets or that her advise would somehow be compromised should it be made public, as a candidate Obama criticized President Bush for using executive privilege as a reason to keep White House aides from testifying before Congress.
From the New York Times:
Earlier Wednesday at his regular briefing with reporters, Mr. Obama’s press secretary, Robert Gibbs, said Ms. Rogers would not testify. “I think you know that, based on separation of powers, staff here don’t go to testify in front of Congress,’’ he said. “She won’t — she will not be testifying in front of Congress.’’
Mr. Gibbs also said the flap over the unauthorized intruders has prompted the White House to change its procedures; from now on, a representative of the social secretary’s office will be stationed at Secret Service checkpoints for major social events in case questions arise. The White House deputy chief of staff, Jim Messina, conducted a review and issued a directive to the staff.
“Based on separation of powers, staff here don’t go to testify in front of Congress,” says Gibbs. Perhaps he should check with his boss before pontificating on the Constitutionally-defined roles of the branches of government.
Here’s what Obama the candidate said in June 2008 after receiving a question about President Bush’s use of executive privilege:
“I think that nobody is above the law. If there are specific assertions of executive privilege, then, you know, those can be examined. But I think this notion, this blanket notion that you can’t subpoena White House aides, where there’s evidence of genuine wrongdoing, I think is completely misguided.
“You know, as I recall, Richard Nixon mounted similar arguments. That’s not how we operate. We’re a nation of laws and not men and women. So, you know — and my — that’s a precedent I don’t mind living with as president of the United States.”
Of course, Bush — and Nixon for that matter — used separation of powers to block testimony from their closest advisers. The official party planner for the White House must be an entirely different story. Don’t want her getting questions about who spell-checks the official menu.
It’s important to note, too, that the White House released a memo today outlining the steps it will take to keep party crashers from breaking the barrier in the future. The memo still lets the Secret Service take all of the heat for the incident, but also says someone from the social office will now check names against the invitee list — which was standard practice before Obama took office.
- The Truth Will Set You Free (tarpon.wordpress.com)