The NYT has a major bombshell: Two top lawyers -- Jeh C. Johnson, the Pentagon general counsel, and Caroline D. Krass, acting head of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel -- told The White House otherwise.
Even Attorney General Eric Holder sided with Krass.
But Rather than heed their advice, he instead went with two lawyers with views more favorable to him: Bob Bauer (who is internal at The White House), and State Department advisor Harold Koh.
This is striking:
Presidents have the legal authority to override the legal conclusions of the Office of Legal Counsel and to act in a manner that is contrary to its advice, but it is extraordinarily rare for that to happen. Under normal circumstances, the office’s interpretation of the law is legally binding on the executive branch.
No doubt this will only embolden the bi-partisan group of Congressmen who think the war at this point is illegal.
And of course one can only imagine how news like this would have gone down under the Bush administration.
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