Don't ask me

The White House farms out questions about Cheney's case for avoiding rules on classified information.

By Tim Grieve

Published June 25, 2007 7:08PM (EDT)

So what does the White House think of Dick Cheney's argument that his office is part of the legislative branch, not the executive branch, and therefore not subject to the reporting requirements of an executive order governing the protection of classified national security information?

Dana Perino was asked variations of that question repeatedly at the White House today. Her answer: I don't have an opinion, so you should ask somebody else.

Reporter: What is the White House's view of the argument the vice president is making on whether or not he's part of the executive branch?

Perino: I'm not opining on it, because the president did not intend for the vice president to be subject as an agency in that section of the E.O.

Reporter: Those are entirely different arguments. So you don't support the vice president's theory ...

Perino: I'm not opining on it either way.

Reporter: But, Dana, how could the vice president earlier in the administration argue he didn't have to turn over records about the energy task force, for example, because he was a member of the executive branch?

Perino: Ask the Supreme Court.

Reporter: He clearly stated that.

Perino: You could ask the Supreme Court, who ruled in his favor.

Reporter: But he did not say, "I'm a member of the legislative branch as well, so I don't have to" -- I mean, he clearly stated that there was strong executive power and he didn't have to turn over these records. Now, when it suits his interests, he seems to be saying a different legal argument.

Perino: Look, I'm not a legal scholar. And there's plenty of them that you can find in Washington, D.C. But just that very point that you're making there shows that he has functions in both the executive branch and the legislative branch.

Reporter: But he didn't mention those dual functions in the earlier legal arguments at the beginning of the administration. He only used the executive branch argument.

Perino: Look, you can try to call his office and try to get more information. I'm not opining on his argument that his office is making ...

Reporter:Was the president satisfied that Alberto Gonzales has not responded yet after five, six months [to] a request by this office to have this issue mediated?

Perino: I think -- I have not asked the president if he's concerned about that. And I would ask you to call over to the Justice Department to find out ...

Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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