Watt expects a ruling of contempt on papers

Interior Secretary James G. Watt said he is likely to be held in contempt of Congress for failing to turn over documents about Canadian energy policy to a House subcommittee, but he expects the Supreme Court would rule in his favor.

A contempt ruling initiated in the committee Feb. 9 could, if pursued by the Interior Committee and the full House, result in a criminal prosecution of Mr. Watt or a trial on the House floor.

At issue is the administration's ''executive privilege'' claim in withholding documents requested by the House energy subcommittee because the information was sensitive and could damage US-Canadian relations if disclosed. Watt said he had given the subcommittee more than 200 documents over the last six months and was refusing to hand over only seven.

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