White House runs conference call on executive privilege for right-wing bloggers
At the urging of top conservative bloggers, the White House set up a Friday morning conference call to promote its message on the subject of executive privilege, RAW STORY has found.
"The White House hosted a blogger conference call to discuss the issues surrounding the Bush administration's use of executive privilege in the probe of the firings of eight federal prosecutors," wrote Ed Morrissey, who produces the blog Captains Quarters. "The White House arranged the call based on a recommendation by this blog, in order to familiarize the blogosphere with the legal and political arguments on which the administration will rely to prevail in the upcoming fight regarding the contempt citations Congress seems likely to approve."
The White House did not immediately respond to queries about the conference call from RAW STORY.
Morrisey did not name any other participants in the call or identify the administration official who spoke to the assembled bloggers. But he showed that the message being delivered by the White House was short and to the point.
"The power to hire and fire federal prosecutors belongs exclusively to the executive branch," Morrissey wrote. "Congress has no particular oversight in these matters, and so the executive privilege claim is very compelling in this instance."
At least one commenter was critical of Morrissey's efforts.
"Thanks for reporting the administration's talking points, Captain Steno," wrote the posts only commenter. "You have a reputation for being a rational thinker, so how's about a little more in-depth analysis of the legal merit of the points?"
While most of the questions relayed by Morrissey were informational, one appeared to challenge the terms of the White House's privilege assertion. When asked why Congress has oversight for federal agencies but not the White House, the official was forced to defend his position.
"The difference is that the President cannot be subpoenaed, and neither can his advisers, who do not require Congressional confirmation to serve," the Bush official was reported to have said. "The President has the power to order them to keep silent about their advisory activities."
The White House official was also asked about the possibility of impeachment, and apparently dismissed any danger.
"The Speaker has ruled that out, and the senior official hopes they see the futility of that path," Morrisey wrote.
Friday morning's conference call was not the first time the White House has promoted its message to bloggers. According to conservative blogger Robert Bluey, the Bush White House convened bloggers on the phone to speak about avian flu in 2006, and on Iraq at the beginning of the 110th Congress in January.
RAW STORY was unable to locate any other accounts of the conference call. The full Captain's Quarters blog post can be read at this link.