Office of Legal Counsel (OLC)

OLC Releases Opinion on Executive Branch Counsel for Officials Subject to Congressional Subpoena

By Hadley Baker
Tuesday, June 11, 2019, 4:33 PM

The Justice Department disclosed an opinion from the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) stating that it is unconstitutional for Congress to prohibit executive branch lawyers from accompanying witnesses who are current and former executive branch employees called to testify. OLC argued that this practice would impede upon the president’s use of executive privilege and ability to “control the disclosure of privileged information and to supervise the Executive Branch’s communications with congressional entities.” The opinion comes after subpoenas by the House Committee on Oversight and Reform in April that barred the presence of agency counsel, only allowing for private counsel, and states that congressional subpoenas that do so are legally invalid. The opinion is available here and below.