WASHINGTON (AP) — President Bush asserted executive privilege Friday to withhold documents from a congressional investigation into whether he pressured the Environmental Protection Agency to weaken decisions on smog and greenhouse gases.
White House officials notified a House committee of the rare assertion about 15 minutes before the committee was to vote on holding the head of the EPA and a White House budget official in contempt of Congress for not providing the documents.
The committee’s chairman, Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., then canceled the vote while expressing skepticism over the privilege claim.
“I have a clear sense that their assertion of this privilege is self-serving and not based on the appropriate law and rules,” Waxman said from the dais of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing room.
“I don’t think we’ve had a situation like this since Richard Nixon was president when the president of the United States may have been involved in acting contrary to law, and the evidence that would determine that question for Congress in exercising our oversight is being blocked by an assertion of executive privilege,” he said. more