The emails the White House doesn’t want you to see

Mother Jones
by Daniel Schulman

03/30/07

In general, past administrations, Democratic and Republican, have chafed at the prospect of turning over their records, per the Presidential Records Act, says Bruce Montgomery, the director of the University of Colorado at Boulder’s archives and an expert on presidential papers. ‘No president since Carter, who signed the Presidential Records Act into law, has looked kindly on that statute. Carter did not want the Presidential Records Act to apply to him. The Carter Justice Department saw it as a breach of the separation of powers.’ In 1985, a young lawyer working in the Reagan White House questioned the constitutionality of the law in a memo to his boss, White House counsel Fred Fielding, who is currently reprising that role in the Bush administration. That lawyer, John Glover Roberts Jr., who we know as Chief Justice Roberts, noted that the ‘existence of the Act serves to burden the full and frank exchange of advice.’ That advice, he argued, ‘is protected by the constitutionally based doctrine of executive privilege.’ He fretted, however, that it was too early to mount a constitutional challenge. That would have to wait until 2001, when, after the 12-year waiting period outlined in the law, the first batch of Reagan-era documents would be released...

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Informant: Thomas L. Knapp



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