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   White House lets Leahy’s deadline pass, reasserting claim that Cheney is not part of the Executive branch

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8/21/2007 12:00 am

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Entered 8/21/2007, Updated 8/21/2007

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Vice President Dick Cheney’s office on Monday responded separately from the White House to a Senate subpoena for documents on warrantless wiretapping and resurrected the controversial contention that Cheney is not part of the executive branch. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) set Monday’s subpoena deadline after granting an extension request by the White House. Presidential counsel Fred Fielding, as expected, told Leahy in a letter that a second delay, until after Labor Day, would help Congress and the administration “expeditiously seek a means of accommodation that will negate the need for an assertion of executive privilege.” But the response from the vice president was more surprising, because the White House was believed to have abandoned the argument that Cheney is a hybrid entity with both executive and legislative powers. Cheney’s lawyers first crafted the argument to bolster his lack of compliance with an executive order on the safeguarding of classified information, a tactic that backfired amid Democratic anger and derisive jokes on late-night talk shows. Yet Cheney counsel Shannen Coffin wrote to Leahy on Monday that “the issuance of the subpoena to this office was procedurally irregular” because the judiciary panel only authorized Leahy to issue summonses to the Executive Office of the President (EOP) and the Justice Department. Leahy dryly noted that the White House website currently lists the vice president as a part of the EOP, also distributing copies of a 1978 executive order that describes the vice president as part of the EOP.


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