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Cheney won’t turn over papers

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WASHINGTON — Despite the threat of an unprecedented lawsuit, Vice President Dick Cheney said Sunday he would not give congressional investigators internal documents related to development of the administration's energy plan, including additional information on Enron Corp.

The General Accounting Office, the investigative arm of Congress, has been seeking more information about contacts between industry and the Bush administration's energy task force, headed by Cheney.

On the "Fox News Sunday" program, Cheney said the long-standing debate with the GAO was being revived by Democrats hoping to capitalize on the collapse of energy giant Enron.

"Now what's happened is we've come back around, as a result of the Enron corporate collapse, some of the Democrats on the Hill are trying to re-energize this and try to turn it into some kind of political debate," Cheney said.

"The fact is, Enron didn't get any special deals," he added on the ABC "This Week" program.

Cheney said the dispute involved investigators' requests, at the urging of Democrats, for "a listing of everybody I meet with, of everything that was discussed, any advice that was received, notes and minutes of those meetings."

"It would make it virtually impossible for me to have confidential conversations with anybody. . . . You just cannot accept that proposition without putting a chill over the ability of the president and vice president to receive unvarnished advice.

"The net result of that is to weaken the presidency and the vice presidency," he added on ABC.

Comptroller General David Walker, head of the GAO, said he would decide this week whether to file suit to force the White House to turn over the information, which he said would be the first such action against a federal agency.

Walker says Congress and the GAO have a right to information on the task force because it was funded with taxpayers' money.

But Cheney said the GAO did not have the authority to demand such information.

"Their jurisdiction extends to agencies created by statute. That's not me," he told the Fox program. "I'm a constitutional officer. And the authority of the GAO does not extend in that case to my office."

Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle said Cheney's decision was "unfortunate."