Essay On Executive Privilege

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The power of executive privilege has been extremely controversial since basically the beginning of the United States as a democratic government. Many saw this power come into a greater public focus particularly during the Nixon presidency and the infamous Watergate Scandal, but the theory and use of executive privilege existed long before Nixon. As in true American fashion, some argue in favor of executive privilege, while others view it in a more negative light. The intense controversy is what makes executive privilege so intriguing to review in a deeper and more in depth analysis. The theory of executive privilege has derived its power throughout evolution of time, a series of presidencies, and quite a few pinpointed circumstances resulting in some very notorious court cases. First off, to understand examples of executive privilege, the concept itself needs to be defined. Although there are various definitions of executive privilege, they all are quite similar when it comes down to it. According to one definition executive privilege is “the executive’s right to withhold information from either Congress or the judicial branch –and thus, indirectly, from the people” (Magi 561). Another, very similar, definition is: “an implied power that enables presidents and high-level executive branch officers to withhold information from Congress, the courts, and, ultimately, the public” (Rozell 550). Both definitions note that executive privilege is the withholding of information from the other two branches of government and, at the end of the day, from the people as well. Sometimes this also entails the executive denying a request to appear before the judicial or legislative branch (Holt 237). Most executive privilege disputes, however, ar... ... middle of paper ... ...o a collision of powers and will cause some sort of debate or argument, and possibly even a legal dispute. Executive privilege has been around since Washington’s first term in office as the first official president of the United States. During Washington’s presidency he set the stage for the use of executive privilege that will evolve over time into something far greater than its initial purpose. Clinton and Nixon utilized executive privilege in a greater sense than Washington, and later Jefferson. They used executive privilege to cover up their wrongdoings and illegal activities. The outcome of the Nixon trial led to the official acknowledgment of executive privilege as a power allotted to the president and other executive officials, but it also noted that the power of executive privilege does not override the need of key information in a criminal investigation.

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