White House letter rejecting subpoena
June 28, 2007

WASHINGTON - Text of a letter Thursday from White House counsel Fred Fielding rejecting congressional subpoenas for documents in the firings of eight U.S. attorneys:

June 28, 2007

On June 13, 2007, the White House received two subpoenas from your Committees requesting documents relating to the replacement of United States Attorneys, calling for the documents to be produced by June 28, 2007. I write at the direction of the President to advise and inform you that the President has decided to assert Executive Privilege and therefore the White House will not be making any production in response to these subpoenas for documents. In addition, Chairman Leahy subpoenaed documents from former Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of Political Affairs Sara M. Taylor, with the same return date of June 28, 2007. Chairman Conyers has subpoenaed documents from former Counsel to the President Harriet E. Miers, with a return date of July 12, 2007. Counsel for Ms. Taylor and Ms. Miers have been informed of the President's decision to assert Executive Privilege and have been asked to relay to Ms. Taylor and Ms. Miers a direction from the President not to produce any documents.

At the outset of this controversy, the President attempted to chart a course of cooperation. It was his intent that Congress receives information in a manner that accommodated Presidential prerogatives. The Department of Justice, for its part, has produced or made available for review more than 8,500 pages of documents, including scores of documents containing communications with White House personnel. In addition, the Attorney General, Deputy Attorney General, Principal Associate Deputy Attorney General, Attorney General's former Chief of Staff, former White House Liaison, and other senior Department officials have testified in public hearings and, in some instances, submitted to interviews with Committee staff. As a result, your Committees have received an extraordinary amount of information regarding the U.S. Attorney replacement issue by way of accommodation.

The President's offer reflected his desire to cooperate and accommodate.

To be sure, the President's offer also took care to protect fundamental interests of the Presidency and the constitutional principle of separation of powers. Specifically, the President was not willing to provide your Committees with documents revealing internal White House communications or to accede to your desire for senior advisors to testify at public hearings. The reason for these distinctions rests upon a bedrock Presidential prerogative: for the President to perform his constitutional duties, it is imperative that he receive candid and unfettered advice and that free and open discussions and deliberations occur among his advisors and between those advisors and others within and outside the Executive Branch. Presidents would not be able to fulfill their responsibilities if their advisors on fear of being commanded to Capitol Hill to testify or having their documents produced to Congress were reluctant to communicate openly and honestly in the course of rendering advice and reaching decisions. These confidentiality interests are especially strong in situations like the present controversy, where the inquiry seeks information relating to the President's powers to appoint and remove U.S. Attorneys — authority granted exclusively to the President by the Constitution.

Further, it remains unclear precisely how and why your Committees are unable to fulfill your legislative and oversight interests without the unfettered requests you have made in your subpoenas. Put differently, there is no demonstration that the documents and information you seek by subpoena are critically important to any legislative initiatives that you may be pursuing or intending to pursue.

Consistent with the analysis of the Acting Attorney General, the President is satisfied that the testimony sought from Sara Taylor and Harriet Miers is subject to a valid claim of Executive Privilege and is prepared to assert the Privilege with respect to that testimony if the matter cannot be resolved. However, the President has further instructed me to confirm that while unwilling to submit to subpoenas compelling the production of documents and testimony, in the absence of any subpoenas he continues to be willing to provide you with information as previously offered. In short, the President requests that your inquiry proceed in a balanced manner, respectful of important constitutional principles of both institutions, rather than through confrontation. It is hoped you will reconsider your present position, accept the President's offer, and bring closure to this controversy so we may all return to more productive activity on behalf of the Nation.

Fred F. Fielding

Original Text