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Assertions of Executive Privilege from Kennedy to Obama

Post categories

  1. Freedom of Information
President Controversy

President

Controversy

Privilege asserted successfully?

Kennedy

 

1962 – directed Sec. of Defense not to provide the names of individuals who wrote or
edited speeches to Senate panel

Yes

 

1962 – directed military adviser, General Maxwell Taylor, to refuse to testify before a
congressional committee investigating Bay of Pigs affair

Yes

Johnson

*Three instances occurred in which executive branch officials refused to supply congressional panel with information about presidential actions. Johnson did not invoke privilege himself nor
did officials claim he ordered their actions

*Yes

Nixon

1970 – directed Attorney General to withhold FBI reports from a congressional panel

Yes

 

1971 – directed Secretary of State to withhold information from Congress about military
assistance programs

Yes

 

1972 – asserted to prevent a White House advisor from testifying before Senate panel about
an International Telephone and Telegraph settlement

Settlement reached

 

1973-74 – claimed privilege over White House tapes three times during Watergate investigation

No

Ford

1975 – directed Sec. of State to withhold documents during congressional investigation into
State Department recommendations to National Security Council

Settlement reached

Carter

1979 – directed Sec. of Energy to claim privilege when committee requested documents
relating to policy to impose petroleum import fee

Settlement reached

Reagan

1981 – directed Sec. of Interior to assert privilege before congressional panel investigating
Canadian oil leases

No

 

1982 – directed EPA Administrator to claim privilege before congressional committee
regarding Superfund enforcement

Settlement reached

 

1986 – directed Justice Rehnquist to assert privilege during his nomination proceedings for
Chief Justice over memos written while working at DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel

Settlement reached

Bush,
George H. W.

1991 – directed Sec. of Defense to not comply with congressional subpoena for document
related to costs and cancellation of Navy aircraft program

Yes

Clinton

1995 – asserted during Senate Whitewater investigation over notes kept by White House counsel

Claim withdrawn

 

1996 – asserted before a congressional committee during Travelgate investigation

Settlement reached

 

1996 – asserted before the congressional committee over a FBI-DEA drug enforcement memo

Yes

 

1996 – asserted before congressional committee over Haiti/political assassinations documents

Yes

 

1997 – asserted during grand jury investigation involving communications with White House
counsel and private counsel for Hillary Clinton

Claim withdrawn

 

1997 – asserted during grand jury investigation into Sec. of Agriculture

No

 

1997 – directed Chief of Staff to claim privilege during Web Hubbell grand jury investigation

Claim withdrawn

 

1998 – asserted in Lewinsky matter

No

 

1998 – asserted by Director of Oval Office Operations in Lewinsky matter

Claim withdrawn

 

1998 – asserted by White House aide Sidney Blumenthal in Lewinsky matter

No

 

1998 – asserted by White House counsel Cheryl Mills in Lewinsky matter

No

 

1998 – asserted by White House counsel Lanny Breuer in Lewinsky matter

No

 

1998 – asserted by adviser Bruce Lindsey in Lewinsky matter

No

 

1999 – White House counsel claimed privilege in response to subpoenas by congressional
committee investigating Armed Forces of National Liberation clemency

Yes

Bush,
George W.

2001 – directed Attorney General to not release documents related to an investigation of
FBI corruption

No

 

2004 – asserted over documents sought from DOJ’s Office of the Pardon Attorney

No

 

2007 – asserted in response to congressional subpoenas to White House Counsel and Chief of Staff over investigation into the removal and replacement of U.S. Attorneys

Settlement reached

 

2008 – EPA Administrator ordered to assert privilege in response to congressional subpoenas
for documents about regulations for air quality standards and communications about
greenhouse gas emissions in California

Yes

 

2008 – asserted in response to subpoena to Karl Rove over investigation into the removal and replacement of U.S. Attorneys

Settlement reached

 

2008 – directed Attorney General to assert in response to congressional subpoena for documents related to investigation into revelation of Valerie Plame Wilson’s identity as CIA operative

Yes

Obama

2012 – asserted by Attorney General in response to congressional investigation into
Operation Fast and Furious

Pending

 

Source: Congressional Research Service, 2012