Wednesday, June 20, 2012
Obama Claims Executive Privilege Over Fast And Furious Docs
With a committee vote on a contempt of Congress citation looming, Attorney General Eric Holder brought in the heavy artillery and had President Obama exert executive privilege over the Fast and Furious docs Holder is refusing to provide in answer to subpoenas issued by the investigative committee chaired by Rep. Darrel Issa and Sen. Chuck Grassley:
Rep. Darrell Issa pressed ahead with a committee vote Wednesday to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress, despite an 11th-hour move by President Obama to exert executive privilege over the Fast and Furious documents at the heart of the dispute.
The announcement instantly touched off a caustic debate on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, as Democrats accused Issa of prosecuting a "political witch hunt" and Republicans stepped up their criticism of Holder's "stonewalling" over the Fast and Furious probe. Even for Washington, the tone at the hearing was decidedly bitter and accusatory.
The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee was first informed of the president's decision to exert executive privilege in a letter Wednesday morning, shortly before the contempt vote was scheduled.
Issa said committee staff are evaluating the letter but described the move as too little, too late as he and other GOP lawmakers questioned the basis for the assertion.
"This untimely assertion by the Justice Department falls short of any reason to delay today's proceedings," Issa said.
Issa accused the Justice Department of trying to compel the committee to close its investigation in exchange for documents it hasn't yet seen. "I can't accept that deal. No other committee chairman would," he said.
Fast and Furious, you'll remember, involved the Department of Justice allowing thousands of illegally purchased weapons to 'walk' across the border for resale to Mexican drug cartels. The weapons had no tracking devices, most have never been recovered and over 300 murders have been attributed to them, including the murder of U.S. border patrol agent Brian Terry.
Since this came to light, there has been a major pattern of stonewalling, obfuscation and outright lies to the committee, headed by Representative Darrel Issa and Senator Chuck Grassley.
In fact, the documents President Obama just asserted executive privilege over relate to a February 11th, 2011, letter to Sen. Grassley claiming that the Department of Justice and AG Holder had only just found out about Fast and Furious. Holder and the DOJ later admitted the letter was 'in error' after an e-mail trail surfaced that proved they knew about Fast and Furious and had approved the operation long before, and what Grassley and Issa want to see is documents dated after from February 2011 and afterward relating to how Justice officials learned about the Fast and Furious investigation. Or in other words, who knew what and when did they know it.
Holder's final offer in his meeting with Issa was that he would brief Issa and the committee himself on what was in the documents rather than supplying the subpoenaed documents themselves..provided the committee agreed in advance that this would satisfy the subpoena! Such an offer only underlines how much contempt the attorney general has for the committee and for Congress.
I'm hardly surprised President Obama is asserting executive privilege here. It's been obvious to me for some time that this led straight to the White House. In fact, President Obama even allowed for $10 million in funding for the operation as part of his 'stimulus' program. It's in the stimulus bill itself.
As Senator Grassley said in a statement today, there's no reason for President Obama to assert executive privilege if there was no White House involvement:
"The assertion of executive privilege raises monumental questions. How can the President assert executive privilege if there was no White House involvement? How can the President exert executive privilege over documents he's supposedly never seen? Is something very big being hidden to go to this extreme? "
Of course this president knew about Fast and Furious, and a long tome before February 11 of 2011.There's a reason funds for Fast and Furious were in the Stimulus package President Obama is so proud of. I mean, look at all the jobs it provided for weapons traffickers and enforcers for the Mexican drug cartels!
If the majority of Democrats in Congress had any decency (of if the president did, for that matter) there would be a special prosecutor named immediately. Needless to say, they haven't and there won't be.