Cheney's Hand Seen in Executive Privilege Fight

By Kenneth T. Walsh
Posted 3/23/07

Republican insiders see the hand of Vice President Cheney in the White House's tough stand against allowing political adviser Karl Rove and other senior White House officials to publicly testify under oath before Congress.
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"It's classic Cheney–the defender of executive power," says a senior Republican who talks regularly with West Wing officials. He points out that Cheney believes the power of the president has been eroded over the years in a very unhealthy way–going back to his stint as Gerald Ford's White House chief of staff near the end of the divisive Vietnam era.

But there is a growing sense among GOP insiders that in the end, President Bush and Cheney will accept a compromise that allows White House officials to testify under oath, complete with transcripts but in private. They stress that Bush and Cheney want to avoid grandstanding by legislators for the cameras and the appearance that Rove is a defendant in a trial.

More important, the insiders' theory is that Bush, on Cheney's advice, wants to avoid a Supreme Court confrontation over executive power. If the high court ruled against the president, it could set back executive branch prerogatives for many years–"and that's something that Cheney doesn't want to risk," says a colleague of the vice president.