WASHINGTON (AP) The General Accounting Office has decided to sue the White House for access to documents from President Bush”s energy task force, a congressional source told The Associated Press yesterday.

The GAO”s plan to take the White House to court sets up a political battle over executive privilege. Bush on Monday flatly refused to hand over the documents, saying to do so would encroach on his ability to freely seek outside views.

A decision had been expected all week from Comptroller General David Walker, leader of GAO, Congress” investigative arm. The GAO wants to force Vice President Dick Cheney, who ran the task force, to turn over documents on the meetings held last year with business executives as the Bush administration crafted a national energy policy.

Some of the meetings included officials from the now-collapsed Enron Corp., a Houston-based energy trader with deep ties to Bush.

“We have been notified that they will be announcing their decision today and that their decision is that they will be moving forward,” said the Senate source, speaking on condition on anonymity.

It would be the first time in the GAO”s 80-year existence that it sued the executive branch. The lawsuit would be filed in the U.S. District Court in Washington.

The White House said it had not received notification of the GAO lawsuit. “The president will stand on principle and for the right of presidents and this president to receive candid advice without it being turned into a news release,” said White House spokesman Ari Fleischer.

White House officials, fearing political fallout from the legal action, scrambled to raise questions about the GAO”s actions.

GAO officials were calling congressional leaders yesterday to tell them of the decision. An official announcement was expected later in the day.

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