Fred’s Fuck You and Clement’s Conflict of Interest
Congresswoman Sanchez is right. Fred Fielding’s letter telling Congress to fuck off is not so much a legal notice, but a lecture. It spends two paragraphs saying "no," one paragraph spinning the White House as cooperative, and then seven paragraphs talking about the exalted tradition of executive privilege.
More troubling, however, is what Fielding attaches: an opinion written by Solicitor General Paul Clement, explaining that OLC has reviewed Congress’ requests and found that those requests fall squarely within the realm of executive privilege.
Dear Mr. President,
You have requested my legal advice as to whether you may assert executive privilege with respect to the subpoenaed documents and testimony concerning the categories of information described in this letter. It is my considered legal judgment that you may assert executive privilege over the subpoenaed documents and testimony.
Paul Clement, as you’ll recall, is the guy currently in charge of any investigation into the US Attorney firings, since Alberto Gonzales recused himself some months ago. He’s the one who technically oversees the Office of Special Counsel investigation into whether politics played an improper part in Iglesias’ firing or the hiring of career employees in DOJ, he’s the one who oversees the joint Office of Professional Responsibility and Inspector General investigations into whether anything improper–including obstruction of justice–occurred in the hiring and firing of USAs. And now, he’s the guy who gets to tell the President that he doesn’t have to turn over what might amount to evidence of obstruction of justice in the Foggo and Wilkes case, among others.
Of course, to some degree this makes sense. When this goes to court, it is Clement who will have to defend the White House position on refusing to turn over the documents.
But that just demonstrates how hopelessly compromised Clement is. He is–already, even before we hit the courts–in a position where he is simultaneously defending the White House, and investigating it. And all the while, Team Libby is intent on having Libby’s conviction thrown out because, they insist, it’s perfectly feasible for an investigation into high level Administration officers to report to some of those same high level officers.
Do you see where this is going?