The president makes a statement:
DURING my press conference Of January 31, 1973, I stated that I would issue a statement outlining my views on executive privilege.
The doctrine of executive privilege is well established. It was first invoked by President Washington, and it has been recognized and utilized by our Presidents for almost 200 years since that time. The doctrine is rooted in the Constitution, which vests "the Executive Power" solely in the President, and it is designed to protect communications within the executive branch in a variety of circumstances in time of both war and peace. Without such protection, our military security, our relations with other countries, our law enforcement procedures, and many other aspects of the national interest could be significantly damaged and the decisionmaking process of the executive branch could be impaired.
The general policy of this Administration regarding the use of executive privilege during the next 4 years will be the same as the one we have followed during the past 4 years and which I outlined in my press conference: Executive privilege will not be used as a shield to prevent embarrassing information from being made available but will be exercised only in those particular instances in which disclosure would harm the public interest.
In recent weeks, questions have been raised about the availability of officials in the executive branch to present testimony before committees of the Congress...During the first 4 years of my Presidency, hundreds of Administration officials spent thousands of hours freely testifying before committees of the Congress.
Requests for Congressional appearances by members of the President's personal staff present a different situation and raise different considerations. Such requests have been relatively infrequent through the years, and in past administrations they have been routinely declined. I have followed that same tradition in my Administration, and I intend to continue it during the remainder of my term.
Under the doctrine of separation of powers, the manner in which the President personally exercises his assigned executive powers is not subject to questioning by another branch of Government. If the President is not subject to such questioning, it is equally appropriate that members of his staff not be so questioned, for their roles are in effect an extension of the Presidency.
3. A member or former member of the President's personal staff normally shall follow the well-established precedent and decline a request for a formal appearance before a committee of the Congress. At the same time, it will continue to be my policy to provide all necessary and relevant information through informal contacts between my present staff and committees of the Congress in ways which preserve intact the constitutional separation of the branches.
The Judiciary Committee wants to hear from John Dean. But of course that's only the start of it; the Ervin Committee will want to hear from everyone from Bob Haldeman on down. For now, Nixon is planning to refuse all of it.