George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley warned the White House it is “heading into a buzzsaw” if President Obama refuses to cooperate with congressional inquiries into why lawmakers were shut out of the trade of five dangerous Taliban prisoners for Army. Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.
Turley spoke Friday with CNN anchor Ashleigh Banfield about the growing anger on Capitol Hill over President Obama’s failure to give Congress 30 days’ notice before transferring prisoners from Guantanamo Bay — an action required by federal law.
Some lawmakers — particularly Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley — are demanding the president turn over documents detailing Attorney General Eric Holder’s justification of White House’s refusal to follow the law and keep Congress in the loop.
Turley explained that in this case, the White House would be wise to comply. “There’s a great deal [those documents] might tell us,” he noted, “including the dates of those documents, when the analysis occurred, the decision not to comply with this law.”
“The administration can argue that when the president signed the law, he never intended to be bound by it,” the professor continued. “But he signed the law. It’s a federal law. And I don’t think there’s any serious argument that he violated the language of that law.”
“Now, that doesn’t mean that you can’t argue these other constitutional points,” Turley admitted. “But the White House needs to be very careful. They have not played this thing very well. And they’re heading into a buzzsaw if they take an obstructionist position to Congress. Congress has an oversight duty. There is a law that’s been violated.”
Turley later claimed he doesn’t buy the Obama administration’s argument that the president’s failure to notify Congress was legal under executive privilege.
“Many of use believe it has gone too far,” he asserted. “That executive privilege is now shielding too much. … But putting that aside, Ashleigh, the White House would be wise not to fight this fight and to make the maximum amount of disclosures.”
“I don’t think that they want to seriously create another front in which they are refusing material to Congress,” Turley warned. “After all, these are legal arguments. This is their legal position. And it should be able to be disclosed.”