Usually privilege fights focus on testimony of White House staffers on conversations with President or military and state secrets. President Barack Obama, however, has invoked the separation of powers to block the testimony of Desiree Rogers, the White House Social Secretary, on the recent controversy over Michaele and Tareq Salahi. It appears that nothing less than Article II and the integrity of the Executive Branch is at stake in hearing from someone who arranges parties for the First Couple.
The White House is quickly trying to dampen the story by taking some blame and minimizing any unlawful conduct — clearly against the inclination of the Secret Service which was reportedly pushing for a criminal investigation. The White House issued a statement that dismissed allegations of illegality and stated that White House protocol “was either deficient or mismanaged” and that there were “honest misunderstandings and mistakes made by all parties involved.”
White House Press Secretary, Robert Gibbs, said that it is the constitution not embarrassment that prevents Ms. Rogers from answering questions: “I think you know that, based on separation of powers, staff here don’t go to testify in front of Congress,’’ he said. “She won’t — she will not be testifying in front of Congress.’’
The couple is also refusing to appear at a hearing this week. New reports indicate that the couple has been controversial for years, with unpaid debts, questionable claims, and family disputes, here.
Rogers has been controversial over her showcasing herself in fashion magazines and not adopting the traditional low-profile role of party planners at the White House.
Here is the exchange from the press conference:
Q. Has there been any concern about Desiree Rogers’ performance prior to this instance?
Mr. Gibbs: No.
Q. No one has questioned the president or told the president that she is a very last-minute person, poor planner?
Mr. Gibbs: No, I think you — you all have been to and seen, either whether you’re part of a pool, whether some of you’ve been to receptions, the remarkable work that they have done in pulling off a lot of events here. The first family is quite pleased with her performance, and I’ve heard nothing uttered of what you talked about.
Q. Well, what about the issues of her being in fashion spreads early on in the administration? Did you put the brakes on that? I mean, that is — it’s been raised. It’s now public. It’s — you know, you saw it in the magazines, her pictorials. You saw her on the cover of –
Mr. Gibbs: There’s a — I get Sports Illustrated in my house.
The brouhaha over how the Salahis managed to talk their way into the dinner has been a major distraction for the White House at a time when Mr. Obama is trying to focus on the economy, health care and the war in Afghanistan. At his briefing on Wednesday, Mr. Gibbs finally cut off the questions, declaring, “I’m going to get back to weightier topics, like 98,000 men and women in Afghanistan.’’
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16 thoughts on “Party Pooper: White House Invokes Separation of Powers to Block Testimony of Social Secretary”
Well, thats one way to get you licker.
Lawsuit: Salahis bounced $24K check for liquor buy (AP, 12/4/2009)
ROCKVILLE, Md. – The Virginia couple at the center of last week’s White House security breach is now accused of bouncing a nearly $24,000 check for liquor purchased in Maryland.
The Montgomery County government, which conducts all the wholesale liquor sales on its territory, filed a lawsuit Thursday against Michaele and Tareq Salahi, the couple who got into a state dinner last week without an invitation. The Salahis purchased wine and beer for America’s Polo Cup World Championship, a charity polo event they held in the county in May.
According to documents filed in Montgomery County District Court, the couple returned more than $10,000 worth of merchandise, but they still owe more than $13,000 from the bounced check.
A spokesman for Dewey & LeBoeuf, a law firm that represents the couple, declined to comment on the claim.
Have you ever seen a President throw his Secret Service under the bus like Obama did on this one. The fact of the matter is Desiree Rogers was more concerned with attending the state dinner than she was with ensuring the Secret Service had the proper assistance from White House staff when it came to screening the guest list. To top it off she fired the person a few months ago who would have been standing at the gate with the Secret Service agents ensuring this wouldn’t happen. Once again the Obama administration shows us that it will always be Style over Substance.
She should be fired, if for no other reason but to kill the story. This is the same situation as the Tiger Woods story. It would not have been as damaging if they had just owned up to the errors up front.
The ones that do get fired become professors of law or federal judges. Pick your poison.
This whole things has legs because it is trivial and tabloidy, but…
the question is whether Congress should give the president any deference on his claim of executive privilege for the activities of his staff?
You could argue that her job does not relate to any official role of the president as the head of the executive branch. She’s nothing but a party planner, a coordinator of social activities, which don’t appear to rise to any constitutional level.
On the other hand, because her role involves dealing with foreign dignitaries, maybe the president does have a claim of executive privilege, because at least courts give great deference to presidents regarding matters of foreign policy.
Personally, I think she should have been fired. Doesn’t anyone get fired anymore for doing stupid things?
Has anyone noticed the people on the list which may have been controversial? Hmm a lot of focus has been on who should not have been present than who was. Duhhhh. Lights on please. No one gets into the white house with advanced security clearance.
“Mr. Gibbs: There’s a — I get Sports Illustrated in my house.
The brouhaha over how the Salahis managed to talk their way into the dinner has been a major distraction for the White House at a time when Mr. Obama is trying to focus on the economy, health care and the war in Afghanistan. At his briefing on Wednesday, Mr. Gibbs finally cut off the questions, declaring, “I’m going to get back to weightier topics, like 98,000 men and women in Afghanistan.’’”
Isn’t it the Staff’s job to see that minor distractions do not become major? This President is not being served well.
Besides, with all the security after 9/11 and the legitimate concern that a good ol’ boy will try and take down America’s first black President, the access afforded this particular couple is astounding. I’m not usually one to get all hot and bothered over gossip … but this situation is different. This situation has thrown a bright light on some very stupid and dangerous job performances.
Please don’t pay attention to the real story of claims that the executive is not subject to Congressional oversight. Democrats believed that was wrong under Bush but now, well, a voodoo priestess, why worry about illegal executive actions?
Desirée Glapion Rogers is the descendant of a Creole voodoo priestess named Marie Laveau Glapion.
And speaking of Presidents behaving badly . . .
I’ve said all along it’s the cover up that kills you when the crime proper doesn’t. DOJ screwed with by Bush? The GAO thinks so.
Mr. Transparency, No; Mr. Fraud, Yes.
Separation of Powers isn’t such a big deal when your abusing it with signing statement revisions and whole cloth creation of law and stomping all over the Legislative Branch, is it?
Mr. President So-called Constitutional Scholar.
Look, there’s a great deal of evidence pointing to the fact that the WH knew this couple was going to be there. There were conversations with a defense dept. person as well. I can’t imagine that these multiple conversations were not conveyed to proper authorities. Now we have the Karl Rove argument against Congressional testimony in “the most transparent administration” ever.
Chris Hedges wrote a very good piece on the distractions set before the public. This happened right before Mr. Nobel Peace Prize is all set to treat Afghanistan and Pakistan as a field of blood for their and our own poor and middle class. The real economic numbers aren’t looking very great either. Time for some distractions. Nothing to see here.
People are outraged that Obama could have been in danger, which, IMO, was never the case. I hope some of that outrage spreads to our own poor, working and middle class who are in danger both economically and are the people who will fight this unnecessary war. I hope there will be outrage that we are sending drones with the help of contractors (see Jeremy Scahill) which are killing men, women and children in Pakistan. These people are really in immediate danger, suffering immediate harm. We need to quit falling for crap and look at what is happening to the vast majority of people in this nation. We need to look at how a criminal matter became an excuse for leveling several Muslim countries. We’ve got to snap out of celebrity culture and into reality. Did you know Mr. Transparency’s administration asked for GPS locations of 8 million people from Sprint? (See the Electronic Foundation Frontier.) Did you know DARPA is performing a contest with red balloons to learn how social networking function? (See yesterday’s program on Here and Now). And what about those war crimes trials. And why are we still torturing people and doing extraordinary renditions? We are in a bad state of affairs. The USA is functioning extralegally at home and around the globe. Don’t get sucked away from knowing this by celebrity culture.
just her a . . . ?
They should fire her ass.
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