Via the Center for American Progress' newly-launched Wonk Room, subscription-only E&E News is reporting that the EPA-- responding to Rep. Henry Waxman's (D-CA) subpoena of documents related to the White House's role in the denial of California's auto emissions waiver, and asking (again) for more time to respond-- has put forward a semi-counter-demand of its own:
EPA would also like to request copies of the transcripts from the Committee’s interviews of seven Agency employees...The Agency has an interest in ensuring that the information provided to the Committee by Agency employees in their official capacity is accurate and complete, particularly here where that information appears to be the basis for a new and expansive document request.
The Associated Press has more on this development, referring to EPA's odd request as essentially "tantamount to man biting dog" within the ongoing "tug of war" between the agency and Congress. In terms of legal implications, CAP's Brad Johnson is right that this is less of an enforceable demand than a delaying request. There's nothing intrinsically wrong with EPA asking to see the transcripts, but there is also nothing to keep Waxman from simply brushing it off, and thus it's difficult to see this as anything more than an additional haggling point as the administration tries to drag this matter out until 2009.
Rep. Waxman has yet to comment on this matter or respond to EPA's letter. We wouldn't be surprised to see a pointed response denying this request, demanding that EPA get on with providing him the documents lest he try to enforce the subpoena, and wondering aloud exactly what the EPA means legally-speaking with its deliberately vague claim that the documents "raise very important Executive Branch confidentiality interests." He might also note that this is far from the only recent instance of this EPA claiming privilege without specifying what particular doctrine or legal authority it's invoking.