- WASHINGTON (Reuters) -
the threat of an unprecedented lawsuit, U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney
said on Sunday he would not give congressional investigators internal
related to development of the administration's energy plan, including
information on Enron Corp. .
- The General Accounting Office, the investigative arm
of Congress, has been seeking more information about contacts between
and the Bush administration's energy task force, headed by Cheney.
- On the "Fox News Sunday" program, Cheney said
the long-standing debate with the GAO was being revived by Democrats hoping
to capitalize on the collapse of energy giant Enron.
- "Now what's happened is we've come back around,
as a result of the Enron corporate collapse, some of the Democrats on the
Hill are trying to re-energize this and try to turn it into some kind of
political debate," Cheney said.
- "The fact is, Enron didn't get any special
he added on the ABC "This Week" program.
- Cheney said the dispute involved investigators' requests,
at the urging of Democrats, for "a listing of everybody I meet with,
of everything that was discussed, any advice that was received, notes and
minutes of those meetings."
- "It would make it virtually impossible for me to
have confidential conversations with anybody ... You just cannot accept
that proposition without putting a chill over the ability of the president
and vice president to receive unvarnished advice.
- "The net result of that is to weaken the presidency
and the vice presidency," he added on ABC.
- CONSIDERING SUIT
- Comptroller General David Walker, head of the GAO, said
he would decide this week whether to file suit to force the White House
to turn over the information, which he said would be the first such action
against a federal agency.
- Walker says Congress and the GAO have a right to
on the task force because it was funded with taxpayers' money.
- But Cheney said the GAO did not have the authority to
demand such information.
- "Their jurisdiction extends to agencies created
by statute. That's not me," he told the Fox program. "I'm a
officer. And the authority of the GAO does not extend in that case to my
- Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle said Cheney's decision
- "It may be a matter of principle, but it's also
a matter of law," the South Dakota Democrat told CBS' "Face the
- "If this has to be resolved in the courts, I think
that that may be the only recourse. The General Accounting Office is on
solid ground in demanding that these records be turned over. The American
people have a right to know what the facts are."
- The energy plan announced in May called for more oil
and gas drilling and a revived nuclear power program. It contained many
provisions sought by Enron.
- The White House has revealed that Cheney or the energy
task force staff met six times last year with Enron representatives but
has refused to provide other details on how the administration's policy
- Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott of Mississippi told
CBS, "I can assure you they are not hiding anything."
- Houston-based Enron, once ranked No. 7 on the Fortune
500 big businesses list, filed the largest bankruptcy in U.S. history on
Dec. 2, hammering investors, eliminating thousands of jobs and raising
questions about its ties to President Bush.
- Walker began his pursuit of the energy task force last
spring at the request of Rep. Henry Waxman of California and Rep. John
Dingell of Michigan, both Democrats.
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