So does that letter Newsweek obtained, sent January 16 by the Bush White House to Karl Rove’s lawyer, instructing Rove not to respond to any subpoenas that might be issued, change the state of play as to whether Rove will end up testifying on the US Attorneys firings? After all, President Bush is now on the record claiming the right to assert executive privilege even after leaving office.
Not according to Neil Eggleston, who specialized in executive privilege issues for President Clinton’s White House. Eggleston told TPMmuckraker that, since President Obama has already issued an executive order that appears to take the view that a former president can’t assert executive privilege, he’s unlikely to back Bush’s claim. And assuming things then wind up in court, Eggleston said he’d be very surprised if a court sided with Bush, ruling that executive privilege can be asserted retroactively.
“Remember what Obama kept saying during the transition: ‘There’s only one president at a time?’” asked Eggleston. “This is one where I think a court’s going to decide there’s only one president at a time.”
Eggleston told TPMmuckraker last week that Obama’s order seemed designed to help gain access to Bush White House documents and testimony that Congress has been seeking, including on the US Attorney firings matter.