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Dawn Johnsen Confirms President Must Comply with Congressional Ban on Torture

Office of Legal Counsel Director-nominee Dawn Johnsen confirmed today that the OLC does not have the authority to give the president a green light to ignore

Elisa Mueller
News
Last updated: Jul 31, 2020 | Feb 26, 2009

Office of Legal Counsel Director-nominee Dawn Johnsen confirmed today that the OLC does not have the authority to give the president a green light to ignore congressional statutes, such as a prohibition on torture. “It was absolutely wrong for the president to direct that the torture statute not be complied with.”

Referring to former Bush administration OLC attorney John Yoo’s “torture memo” that defined torture in only the most extreme terms and still didn’t ban it, she said: “I have written very critically of that opinion … my view is that that opinion was not written in the best traditions of the office and did not reflect that principle that legal advice should be impartial, independent, principled and accurate.”

Johnson also confirmed that she would not interfere with the release of the Office of Professional Responsibility report about the integrity and competence of previous OLC opinions, which did approve presidential authority to violate congressional statutes.

Elisa Mueller | Elisa Mueller was born in Kansas City, Missouri, to a mother who taught reading and a father who taught film. As a result, she spent an excessive amount of her childhood reading books and watching movies. She went to the University of Kansas for college, where she earned bachelor's degrees in English and journalism. She moved to New York City and worked for Entertainment Weekly magazine for ten years, visiting film sets all over the world.

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