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Clinton Invokes Executive Privilege to Shield Top Aides

March 21, 1998|From the Washington Post

WASHINGTON — President Clinton has invoked executive privilege in an effort to keep two of his top aides from having to testify fully in independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr's investigation of the Monica S. Lewinsky matter, sources said Friday.

A team of lawyers for the president, along with Starr and seven prosecutors, presented oral arguments during a closed hearing before U.S. Chief Judge Norma Holloway Johnson on Friday afternoon. Starr challenged the assertion of the privilege, and the two sides formalized their positions in court filings.

By claiming executive privilege, Clinton is setting the stage for a constitutional battle over the president's ability to protect the secrecy of his discussions with close advisors. The privilege was established on the theory that certain conversations should remain private to ensure the president receives candid and uncensored advice. The dispute could reach the Supreme Court.

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