This story via the New York Times is… this is one of those times when you have to take the long view, perhaps. “The White House will try to block the release of a handful of emails between President Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, citing longstanding precedent invoked by presidents of both parties to keep presidential communications confidential, officials said Friday.” See, the problem here is that the White House has a point: Presidents from both parties have indeed long taken the position (I think, fairly) that they should be able to get unvarnished opinions from their advisers without having to worry about whether it’d be used for partisan purposes. After all, as the New York Times goes on to note:
President Bush has said that Karl Rove, his closest adviser, and Harriet Miers, his former White House counsel, among others, do not have to comply with Congressional subpoenas because “the president relies upon his staff to give him candid advice.”
This may well end up in a constitutional showdown. If it does, there is no question about which side should prevail. Congress has a right, and an obligation, to examine all of the evidence, which increasingly suggests that the Bush administration fired eight or more federal prosecutors either because they were investigating Republicans, or refusing to bring baseless charges against Democrats. The Supreme Court’s ruling in the Watergate tapes case, and other legal and historical precedents, make it clear that executive privilege should not keep Congress from getting the testimony it needs.