Biden in 2007: ‘Executive Privilege Only Covers Communications Between the President and His Advisors’

By Fred Lucas and Eric Scheiner | June 25, 2012 | 10:37am EDT

( – Vice President Joe Biden, when serving as a senator in 2007, made it clear that executive privilege applies only to communications involving the president himself.

Biden was responding to a question posed by the Boston Globe, which asked Biden, “Does executive privilege cover testimony or documents about decision-making within the executive branch not involving confidential advice communicated to the president himself?”

Biden delivered an unqualified response.

“The executive privilege only covers communications between the president and his advisors,” Biden said in a Boston Globe interview published in Dec. 20, 2007. “Even when the privilege does apply, it is not absolute; it may be outweighed by the public’s interest in the fair administration of justice.”

Biden, then serving as a U.S. senator from Delaware and seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, was speaking about President Bush and the issues of warrantless surveillance and interrogation of terror suspects in his interview with the Globe.

Last week, President Barack Obama asserted executive privilege to shield the Justice Department from handing over documents subpoenaed eight months ago by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

The committee says it has a right to know how the Justice Department learned that gunwalking did in fact occur, and how it handled the fallout – including the discovery that guns from Operation Fast and Furious were found at the scene of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry’s murder.

Both Obama and Holder said there has been no communication with the president regarding the Justice Department’s botched gunwalking sting.

The full House is expected to vote this week on whether to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress for withholding the subpoenaed documents.

The Justice Department has provided the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee with some 7,600 documents. But the committee has subpoenaed many more documents that would show, among other things, how the Justice Department reacted after Congress started asking questions about Operation Fast and Furious.

Operation Fast and Furious was a Justice Department program that began in September 2009 and allowed nearly 2,000 guns to flow into Mexico with the intent of tracking the guns to drug cartel leaders. The operation was halted shortly after Terry’s murder.

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