Breaking: Eric Holder asks for executive privilege on subpoenaed F&F documents; Update: And gets it

posted at 10:36 am on June 20, 2012 by Erika Johnsen

What in the sam hill is in these documents?

Last night, Chairman Darrell Issa declared that Attorney General Eric Holder had failed to provide sufficient documentation or a worthwhile-enough ‘briefing’ to forestall today’s scheduled contempt proceedings. Ahead of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee’s vote this morning, Holder finally decided to go straight to the top and ask his boss to invoke executive privilege on the outstanding documents included in last October’s Congressional subpoena. From Katie Pavlich, live on the Hill:

Just 15 minutes before the House Oversight Committee vote against Attorney General Eric Holder takes place, the Department of Justice has asked the White House to insert Executive Privilege for all Operation Fast and Furious documents according to Chairman Issa’s press secretary Becca Watkins.

Fox News is reporting that The Most Transparent Administration Ever has granted Holder’s request and will indeed allow him executive privilege to withhold the documents.

President Obama has granted an 11th-hour request by Attorney General Eric Holder to exert executive privilege over Fast and Furious documents, a last-minute maneuver that appears unlikely to head off a contempt vote against Holder by Republicans in the House.

Executive privilege is not a common tactic — the president’s authority can still be overturned (don’t you just love checks and balances?), but this could mean a showdown between our several branches of government. Doesn’t exactly do much to bolster the White House’s story that ‘this isn’t a cover-up’ and ‘the higher-ups were uninvolved in this operation,’ does it?

Regardless, the contempt vote is scheduled to move forward. If the Oversight Committee votes yes (and it looks like they will), that moves the proceedings over to the House. If the full House votes to hold Holder in contempt, it goes to a grand jury, and if a grand jury indicts Holder, it goes to trial.

Updates to follow…

Update: It appears that Eric Holder sent his letter to the White House requesting executive privilege last night, and this morning, Deputy Attorney General James Cole sent a letter to Chairman Issa informing the Committee of the White House’s assent.

Dear Mr. Chairman:

After you rejected the Department’s recent offers of additional accommodations, you stated that the Committee intends to proceed with its scheduled meeting to consider a resolution citing the Attorney General for contempt for failing to comply with the Committee’s subpoena of October 11, 2011. I write now to inform you that the President has asserted executive privilege over the relevant post-February 4, 2011, documents.

We regret that we have arrived at this point, after the many steps we have taken to address the Committee’s concerns and to accommodate the Committee’s legitimate oversight interests regarding Operation Fast and Furious. Although we are deeply disappointed that the Committee appears intent on proceeding with a contempt vote, the Department remains willing
to work with the Committee to reach a mutually satisfactory resolution of the outstanding issues.

Here’s another thought: Invoking executive privilege on this case is going to come off as a very dodgy and arrogant move. But the White House is willing to take on that bad press, and I can only presume that’s because whatever is in those documents… is much more damning than the alternative. Oh, the tangled webs we weave!

Update: The blogosphere has often lamented about the mainstream media’s lack of consistent interest in the deadly Fast and Furious scandal — they wouldn’t want to report too thoroughly on anything that might harm their darling president’s image, you know. But President Obama asserting his supreme authority into the fray has made this the top story of the day. Just search for breaking news related to “executive privilege.” It’s exploding. Heh. No more sweeping this under the rug now.


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Party line vote. On to the whole House.

either orr on June 20, 2012 at 4:22 PM

No one else has pointed it out yet, but how partisan of the Dems to all vote against Contempt! I am sure that some of them might have voted in favor if it wasn’t an election year…

weaselyone on June 20, 2012 at 4:36 PM

Not if the rumors about Boehner being wishy-washy on this matter turn out to be true. Christ…I hope he doesn’t trip this up.

MadisonConservative on June 20, 2012 at 4:29 PM

I am concerned about Boehner’s testicular fortitude too. But Cavuto is reporting that Boehner’s office will schedule a vote next week.

That is pretty quick. I don’t see how he could do otherwise at this point. Obama’s claim of Executive Privilege is throwing down the gauntlet.

In any case, we will see soon enough.

novaculus on June 20, 2012 at 4:37 PM

Boehner only needed 6 Republican votes to bottle this up in Committee. He could have gotten them if he wanted them. Now the genie’s out of the bottle.

de rigueur on June 20, 2012 at 4:37 PM

MadisonConservative on June 20, 2012 at 4:37 PM

You are too fast for me!

novaculus on June 20, 2012 at 4:38 PM

bluefox on June 20, 2012 at 4:26 PM
Thanks, I missed the Welch amendment roll call vote count, too. We need Rush’s staff.

de rigueur on June 20, 2012 at 4:31 PM

Hey, that’s not supposed to happen:-) I did get that the Yes votes were 14, but didn’t catch the No votes. I’m sure AP or Ed will have it posted in a thread. Yeah on Rush’s staff. I hear Beck’s was the best when he was on Fox too.

I think I’ll email Kudos to Gowdy and Chaffetz and others. They did a great work today!!

bluefox on June 20, 2012 at 4:39 PM

CurtZHP on June 20, 2012 at 4:31 PM

Example of how clever can be so dumb.
I know this is your riff…but it’s a tired one.
You must have something else in your bad of tricks.
No?
Oh well.

verbaluce on June 20, 2012 at 4:39 PM

MadisonConservative on June 20, 2012 at 4:37 PM

You are too fast for me!

novaculus on June 20, 2012 at 4:38 PM

I dunno, you had the Terry family’s entire statement transcribed about as fast as the Committee clerk could read it into the record! :)

You’re both pretty fast… and, I assume, furious.

de rigueur on June 20, 2012 at 4:40 PM

Today, Rep. Trey Gowdy (SC-4), released the following statement in regards to President Obama’s Executive Privilege on the documents related to Fast and Furious, and the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform’s investigation.

“The assertion of executive privilege is legally compromised and calculated solely to delay Congress from exercising its constitutional responsibility to provide oversight.”

“The President claims he knew nothing about Fast and Furious prior to Agent Brian Terry’s murder and no one at the Department of Justice has suggested the President was part of the drafting of a demonstrably false letter dated February 4, 2011, to a committee of congress.”

So, my question to the President is: What are you asserting privilege over? Did you know about Fast and Furious before Brian Terry’s murder? Did you approve the operation? Did you participate in the drafting of a false letter to congress? Unless the answer to all of those questions is yes, there is no matter over which the President can assert privilege.</a> It is merely the latest ploy to delay the investigation.”

Rep. Trey Gowdy (SC-4) is a former federal and state prosecutor who prosecuted scores of firearms cases while working for the United States Attorney’s Office.

INC on June 20, 2012 at 4:41 PM

Gowdy statement on EP:

“The assertion of executive privilege is legally compromised and calculated solely to delay Congress from exercising its constitutional responsibility to provide oversight.”

“The President claims he knew nothing about Fast and Furious prior to Agent Brian Terry’s murder and no one at the Department of Justice has suggested the President was part of the drafting of a demonstrably false letter dated February 4, 2011, to a committee of congress.”

“So, my question to the President is: What are you asserting privilege over? Did you know about Fast and Furious before Brian Terry’s murder? Did you approve the operation? Did you participate in the drafting of a false letter to congress? Unless the answer to all of those questions is yes, there is no matter overwhich the President can assert privilege. It is merely the latest ploy to delay the investigation.”

Devastating. Answer the questions, Obama.

novaculus on June 20, 2012 at 4:41 PM

No one else has pointed it out yet, but how partisan of the Dems to all vote against Contempt!

weaselyone on June 20, 2012 at 4:36 PM

Ha.
Sure, just the Dem votes were partisan.
Thanks for pointing that out.

verbaluce on June 20, 2012 at 4:41 PM

I think I’ll email Kudos to Gowdy and Chaffetz and others. They did a great work today!!

bluefox on June 20, 2012 at 4:39 PM

Stand-outs. And Issa. Who is not an attorney. The kind of citizen legislator the founders envisioned and I wish we had more of.

de rigueur on June 20, 2012 at 4:43 PM

I’m with you there. One clue for me that he isn’t as opposed to this as has been rumored is that the Republican votes on this report, and on every amendment, was unanimous. Surely Boehner or Cantor could have mustered a few Republican votes against this– or even enough to shoot it down– if they really, really didn’t want this coming to the floor.

Ironically, Obama’s EP assertion may have stiffened every Republican’s spine to see this through now.

de rigueur on June 20, 2012 at 4:34 PM

Honestly, I think it was more a battle of charisma twixt Issa and Boehner, and the latter lost. Issa is a commanding leader, who has gone farther on this investigation than, I believe, almost all of his colleagues would have. Boehner is a weeping putz that has demonstrated that his interest in his job is purely political, and not based on any ideological principles.

MadisonConservative on June 20, 2012 at 4:43 PM

Devastating. Answer the questions, Obama.

novaculus on June 20, 2012 at 4:41 PM

Mr. Obama will not be able to answer these questions.. they fail to contain the word “enchanted”.

kringeesmom on June 20, 2012 at 4:43 PM

You are too fast for me!

novaculus on June 20, 2012 at 4:38 PM

Would that most of my work days allowed me to pay this much attention. Hasn’t been that way in months.

You’re keeping up your end quite well, I might add.

MadisonConservative on June 20, 2012 at 4:44 PM

INC on June 20, 2012 at 4:41 PM

Et tu, INC?

novaculus on June 20, 2012 at 4:45 PM

House to vote next week on contempt of Holder.

MadisonConservative on June 20, 2012 at 4:37 PM

That article just said “Republican leaders are now on track to bring the resolution to the House floor for a vote before the July Fourth recess. It is expected to pass.”

They should bring it up ASAP, like this week. Dilly Dallying around as Boehner is known to do isn’t good. SCOTUS is getting ready on the AZ issue and the Obamacare issue as well.

Boehner is way too close to Reid and McConnell in the Senate to suit me and don’t trust him. He talks a lot, but his walk is crooked.

bluefox on June 20, 2012 at 4:46 PM

verbaluce on June 20, 2012 at 4:41 PM

I was simply making the assertion first.

This is just like none of the liberal justices will vote to overturn Obamacare, simply partisan.

Everyone knows that the only likelihood of Obamacare holding up is if Kennedy votes not to overturn. If he votes to overturn, it will all be about the “Conservative Court”.

The media is not allowed to push the 1-sided partisanship any longer.

After hearing the Dem arguments today, you can’t help but admit that they are the extreme partisans.

Now the question is, how many Dems in the House are going to break ranks?

weaselyone on June 20, 2012 at 4:47 PM

Ranking Demtool Cummings to appear on Tingles show. That ought to be a hoot.

novaculus on June 20, 2012 at 4:50 PM

bluefox on June 20, 2012 at 4:39 PM
Stand-outs. And Issa. Who is not an attorney. The kind of citizen legislator the founders envisioned and I wish we had more of.

de rigueur on June 20, 2012 at 4:43 PM

Oh, yes Issa has been committed to this and has done an excellent job. I’m hoping we get more of these in the House and the Senate. Man, what a day this has been! I’m exhausted, LOL

God Bless those in Congress that truly work for Truth & Justice!!

bluefox on June 20, 2012 at 4:51 PM

This “executive privilage” will not hold water, not even legal, but then again, it is from Obama. Will be challenged.

Amazingoly on June 20, 2012 at 4:52 PM

Et tu, INC?

novaculus on June 20, 2012 at 4:45 PM

:) Beat you by a few milliseconds (look at the time stamp), which is to say, meaningless.

INC on June 20, 2012 at 4:55 PM

You must have something else in your bad of tricks.
No?
Oh well.

verbaluce on June 20, 2012 at 4:39 PM

No trick to calling it like I see it, squeeky. You’re a bigot. All liberals are.

CurtZHP on June 20, 2012 at 4:58 PM

Party line vote. On to the whole House.

either orr on June 20, 2012 at 4:22 PM

No one else has pointed it out yet, but how partisan of the Dems to all vote against Contempt! I am sure that some of them might have voted in favor if it wasn’t an election year…

weaselyone on June 20, 2012 at 4:36 PM

After the mid term wipe out of the so called blue dog democrats, all that’s left is the far left partisan hacks. There are no country first democrats in Congress it’s all “party line” all the time.

Dr Evil on June 20, 2012 at 6:52 PM

President Obama has committed to making his administration the most open and transparent in history…

[archived at http://www.webcitation.org/5wFJjivhF]

ITguy on June 20, 2012 at 9:32 PM

Some have been known to chew off an appendage to escape a trap. Only question, lower or upper?

Bmore on June 21, 2012 at 9:16 PM

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