The Law: White House Equities: The New Executive Privilege

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Presidential Quarterly Studies


Presidential administrations have devised numerous legal rationales, such as executive privilege, for concealing information. A relatively new and related rationale is “White House equities.” Although not statutorily defined, White House counsels and other executive officials have interpreted White House equities to encompass all agency communications either to the White House or prepared for communication with the White House. Records classified as containing White House equities provide a basis for the president to assert executive privilege to justify the withholding or redaction of records. This article describes and analyzes the rise and evolution of White House equities, and it critically assesses the impact of the use of this vehicle of information control on the balance of powers of the national government and the principle of democratic accountability.

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