Date: May 17, 2001
Creator: Fisher, Louis
Description: This report begins by reviewing the precedents established during the Washington Administration for withholding documents from Congress. Close examination reveals that the scope of presidential privilege is often exaggerated. Congress had access to more documentation than is commonly believed and might have had more had it pressed for it. Subsequent sections focus on various forms of congressional leverage: the power of the purse, the power to impeach, issuing congressional subpoenas, holding executive officials in contempt, House resolutions of inquiry, GAO investigations, and blocking nominations, all of which may force executive officials to release documents they would otherwise want to keep private and confidential. Even if Presidents announce perfectly plausible grounds for withholding documents, they may have to comply with the congressional will to achieve other more important goals.
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department