Leahy: Cheney Told GOP-Led Congress It Was ‘Not Allowed To Issue Subpoenas’
Today in a press briefing, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) revealed that the White House had missed its 2:30 PM deadline to turn over documents to the Senate Judiciary Committee regarding legal justifications for the National Security Agency’s eavesdropping program. The Committee had already pushed back the original July 18 deadline twice after the White House requested more time.
Leahy said that the administration’s stonewalling amounted to “contempt of the valid order of the Congress,” and pointed out that these subpoenas were passed by broad bipartisan votes. In fact, the Senate Judiciary Committee in the conservative-led 109th Congress, chaired by Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) also attempted to ask questions about the program’s legal justifications. But Vice President Cheney personally barred him from issuing subpoenas:
In fact, we were about to issue subpoenas then and one of the senators came to our meeting and said that the vice president had met with the Republican senators and told them they were not allowed to issue subpoenas.
Not quite sure that’s my understanding of the separation of powers, but it seemed to work at that time.
Leahy also said that while he didn’t receive the requested documents, he did receive “a letter this morning from the Office of the Vice President identifying some documents that would be responsive to the committee’s subpoena.” In the letter, the administration claims the Office of the Vice President is not part of the Executive Office of the President.
Leahy responds, “Well, that’s wrong. … [O]h, incidentally, at least this morning, as I left Vermont, I checked the White House Web site. And even their own Web site, this morning, at least, says that the Executive Office — that the vice president is part of the Executive Office of the President.”