Video: Obama not a big fan of executive privilege in 2007

posted at 11:21 am on June 20, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

With Barack Obama asserting executive privilege for the first time over Department of Justice documents related to Operation Fast & Furious, perhaps a historic look at his views on the legal maneuver are in order. When a few political appointees get fired — which is perfectly within the prerogative of a President — and the 2007 version of Barack Obama rejects its use entirely. When two American law-enforcement officers get killed, along with hundreds of Mexicans, by guns run across the border in an illegal operation at the Department of Justice? Not so much:

CNN’S LARRY KING: Do you favor executive privilege or should Karl Rove and others in that like position be forced to testify before the House or Senate?

OBAMA: Well, you know, I think we’ll — we’ll determine over the next several weeks how this administration responds to the very appropriate call by Patrick Leahy, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, to have these individuals come in and testify. You know, there’s been a tendency on the part of this administration to — to try to hide behind executive privilege every time there’s something a little shaky that’s taking place. And I think, you know, the administration would be best served by coming clean on this. There doesn’t seem to be any national security issues involved with the U.S. attorney question. There doesn’t seem to be any justification for not offering up some clear, plausible rationale for why these — these U.S. attorneys were targeted when, by all assessments, they were doing an outstanding job. I think the American people deserve to know what was going on there.

The assertion of executive privilege creates a huge problem for the White House.  As Rep. Darrell Issa said today at the Fast & Furious hearing, Attorney General Eric Holder and other DoJ officials have repeatedly asserted that the White House and President Obama had no involvement or knowledge of the gun-running operation.  If that was true, then executive privilege cannot apply.  That only relates to the President, as that office is separately elected and accountable to the voters.  Attorneys General answer to both the President and to Congress, and do not have executive privilege.

In other words, this could very well be analogous to the Watergate scandal.  One has to wonder what those documents contain that would force the Obama administration to risk this kind of scandal by first refusing to comply with the subpoenas and then issuing a de facto admission that Obama himself was involved in the operation and/or its aftermath.  The next venue for this scandal will be the federal courts, which is going to take a very dim view of executive privilege assertions to keep Congress from exercising its normal oversight functions for a federal agency rather than the White House itself.  The assertion of the privilege at this point could open Holder and others to charges of perjury and obstruction of justice, not just contempt of Congress, once those documents get released — and they almost certainly will by the courts, if not before.

Addendum: Gabriel Malor has the nuts and bolts of contempt of Congress proceedings.  Read up on it and bookmark it.  We’ll need it as a reference more than once.


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Comment pages: 1 2

jawkneemusic on June 20, 2012 at 11:55 AM

My pleasure

I have no idea, but I do know that you guys come up with really cool names for your fake scandals.

crr6 on July 10, 2011 at 1:24 PM

Del Dolemonte on June 20, 2012 at 12:05 PM

Sign, for a while it seems like we had a pretty good troll to entertain us, but that must have just been a Fluke..

Chip on June 20, 2012 at 12:27 PM

AZCoyote
Towing the party line…….. Who cares who dies, as long as we can push an agenda…………

angrymike on June 20, 2012 at 12:28 PM

Obama asserts executive privilege over ‘Fast and Furious’ documents

“The assertion of executive privilege raises monumental questions,” said Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee who first began the Fast and Furious investigation.

“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? The contempt citation is an important procedural mechanism in our system of checks and balances,” he said.

Rush just pointed this out.

Chip on June 20, 2012 at 12:29 PM

It’s astonishing to me that Janet Napalitano may have agreed to this idiotic scheme. She was governor of AZ, and she was also a US Attorney here. She knows, better than most, just how bad conditions are here. If she went along with this plan, she had to know that the likelihood of those guns being used to kill either Border Patrol agents, Tucson cops, and/or AZ citizens in southern AZ, was very high.

Key word in your post is was. Big Sis moved on. This was a deliberate attempt at attacking the 2nd Amendment, I guess she used the idea that you have to break a few eggs to make an omelet as rationale for not caring about the deaths of Americans at the hands of DoJ employees and the AG.

Happy Nomad on June 20, 2012 at 12:33 PM

Rush just said bho/team are now blaming Bush for this because it started with Bush?
L

letget on June 20, 2012 at 12:37 PM

This story is going to fester and fester to the point the MSM cannot ignore it.

rbj on June 20, 2012 at 11:41 AM

I don’t know about that. They’re pretty much ignoring all the security leaks coming from the WH. Seems like that should be front page news to me until they find out where the leaks came from. But then, why bother if executive orders can erase the truth.

scalleywag on June 20, 2012 at 12:39 PM

I get that she may not have worried about Mexican drug criminals using the guns to kill each other, but you’d think she might have cared just a little about the other likely victims.

AZCoyote on June 20, 2012 at 12:24 PM

As a line-toeing Dem she probably looks at those as nothing but collateral damage for a “greater cause”. Even worse – that could have been the plan all along. What better way (in their twisted minds) to turn the population against the 2nd Amendment than by having a few US citizens and law enforcement personnel killed by “illegal guns”?

dentarthurdent on June 20, 2012 at 12:40 PM

Rush just said bho/team are now blaming Bush for this because it started with Bush?
L

letget on June 20, 2012 at 12:37 PM

That was a totally different program, called “Wide Reciever”.

Del Dolemonte on June 20, 2012 at 12:41 PM

Romney should hold another press conference on the border, on the spot where Agent Brian Terry died, and demand that the Obama Administration make good on their promises of transparency, and deliver all of the Fast & Furious documents that they are demanding.

jjrakman on June 20, 2012 at 12:41 PM

UGH. I can’t eat anymore popcorn, I’m going to have to switch to chips!

Deano1952 on June 20, 2012 at 12:42 PM

Check out drudge hee hee

cmsinaz on June 20, 2012 at 12:44 PM

Del Dolemonte on June 20, 2012 at 12:41 PM

I am aware of that. But bho/team are still saying that the idea started with Bush. Bush gets blamed for everything don’t you know?
L

letget on June 20, 2012 at 12:45 PM

Hahaha, ya’ll should check the pic on http://www.drudgereport.com/

If I weren’t surrounded by liberals that would be my desktop background

Hahahahaha

scalleywag on June 20, 2012 at 12:45 PM

Highlarious scalleywag

cmsinaz on June 20, 2012 at 12:54 PM

This story is going to fester and fester to the point the MSM cannot ignore it.

rbj on June 20, 2012 at 11:41 AM

It’s going to be Furious….

*Ducks*

Chip on June 20, 2012 at 12:54 PM

Romney should hold another press conference on the border, on the spot where Agent Brian Terry died, and demand that the Obama Administration make good on their promises of transparency, and deliver all of the Fast & Furious documents that they are demanding.

jjrakman on June 20, 2012 at 12:41 PM

For, I think, the fourth time! NO! This is not Romney’s fight. This is Congress and the Executive Branch butting heads. Romney is a member of neither. He does not interject himself in this battle. Romney can express an appreciation of checks and balances and then get on with campaigning based on the need for change in economic policy and the unemployment rate.

Romney does not need to grandstand F&F discussion, nor should he.

Happy Nomad on June 20, 2012 at 12:55 PM

Gimme an “I”!

Gimme an “M”!

Gimme a “P”!

Gimme an “E”!

Gimme an “A”!

Gimme a “C”!

Gimme an “H”!

WHAT’S THAT SPELL?!!!!!

pilamaye on June 20, 2012 at 12:57 PM

WHAT’S THAT SPELL?!!!!!

pilamaye on June 20, 2012 at 12:57 PM

Hope

scalleywag on June 20, 2012 at 1:01 PM

By this act Obama now claims to know and to be guilty.

Schadenfreude on June 20, 2012 at 1:23 PM

For those wanting to “shoot-down” (whoops, pardon the pun) the Blame Bush meme as an excuse for Gunwalkergate:

Gunwalker: Gunning Down the ‘Bush Did It, Too’ Lie

Chip on June 20, 2012 at 1:26 PM

Sorry for the semi-double post – I wasn’t sure if the links would make it through moderation..

Chip on June 20, 2012 at 1:28 PM

WHAT’S THAT SPELL?!!!!!

pilamaye on June 20, 2012 at 12:57 PM

FIRE THE BASTARD! (spelling was never my strong suit).

Happy Nomad on June 20, 2012 at 1:28 PM

scalleywag on June 20, 2012 at 12:45 PM

It should be a T shirt.

magicbeans on June 20, 2012 at 1:28 PM

House lefties flee…to avoid contempt vote.

Schadenfreude on June 20, 2012 at 1:28 PM

By this act Obama now claims to know and to be guilty.

Schadenfreude on June 20, 2012 at 1:23 PM

Somebody needs to ask the jug-eared Kenyan why it is okay to give defacto amnesty to a certain group of illegals in this country even as your DoJ was allowing the deaths of hundreds of Mexicans on their side of the border.

Happy Nomad on June 20, 2012 at 1:30 PM

I think we all suspect the plan was to use this to undermine the Second Amendment and justify gun control. I still think this was the most likely plan, and hiding that plan is the most likely reason for asserting executive privilege.

Even so, there is another good — and simpler — possibility. It may be that Holder has enough negative information about Obama that Obama has no choice but to try to cover him with executive privilege no matter how much it hurts, just to keep Holder quiet.

Either way, I see no downside to Congress demanding answers. Just be prepared that the answers, once uncovered, may not be the answers that were expected.

tom on June 20, 2012 at 1:32 PM

House lefties flee…to avoid contempt vote.

Schadenfreude on June 20, 2012 at 1:28 PM

I’m not sure you need a quorum to pass something like this out of committee (because it still has to go to a floor vote). Let them scurry away like the disgusting rats that they are.

Happy Nomad on June 20, 2012 at 1:35 PM

Ed! quick! help! anyone! Can you OD on popcorn????

ted c on June 20, 2012 at 1:37 PM

Romney up 1 point in Gallup today, 47-45. I’m thinking the Obama team is in a complete melt-down panic that his immigration “announcement” sent the polls in the wrong direction for Barack. Now, with him channeling Nixon today, Romney will probably break 50% by the end of the week. Buh-bye, Barack.

Rational Thought on June 20, 2012 at 1:40 PM

Ed! quick! help! anyone! Can you OD on popcorn????

ted c on June 20, 2012 at 1:37 PM

Nothing a very large sugary soda wouldn’t cure…..

dentarthurdent on June 20, 2012 at 1:41 PM

I can’t wait to see what’s in those documents…

PatriotRider on June 20, 2012 at 1:41 PM

IMPEACH THE KENYAN CRIMINAL

TheAudacityofNOPE on June 20, 2012 at 1:43 PM

Romney up 1 point in Gallup today, 47-45. I’m thinking the Obama team is in a complete melt-down panic that his immigration “announcement” sent the polls in the wrong direction for Barack.

Rational Thought on June 20, 2012 at 1:40 PM

Yup. No “new directive” work permits for Dream Actors after all. It was only ever intended for show and a bump in CO and NV anyway. So much for that.

de rigueur on June 20, 2012 at 1:43 PM

I can’t wait to see what’s in those documents…

PatriotRider on June 20, 2012 at 1:41 PM

I also can’t wait to see how they backtrack on their prior testimony that Obummer had nothing to do with it and didn’t know about it.

But I would guess those documents are probably now safely tucked away in the same vault as Obummer’s college transcripts and real birth certificate……

dentarthurdent on June 20, 2012 at 1:43 PM

LOCK UP THE KENYAN CRIMINAL!!

TheAudacityofNOPE on June 20, 2012 at 1:46 PM

Oh, he’s a fan now, I guarantee. Trapped.

Bmore on June 20, 2012 at 1:47 PM

Now that EP has been requested, then it is full on. All previous denials have now…..”expired”….

they knew, they know they knew, we knew they knew, now the truth is coming closer to being revealed like a big ugly abcess.

ted c on June 20, 2012 at 1:51 PM

BO is willing to risk it because he assumes his media allies will allow it and won’t report it beyond a cursory mention. I think he likely correct in his assumption.
Rightyismighty on June 20, 2012 at 11:29 AM

Bingo.
And therein lies the deadly peril of a wholly partisan media.

The regime is secure in the fact that the media has their backs, making them bolder, more blatant and more secure in their abuse of power.

It’s what leads to tyranny.

Dr. Carlo Lombardi on June 20, 2012 at 1:57 PM

Romney camp weighs in. From his press secretary: “President Obama’s pledge to run the most open and transparent administration in history has turned out to be just another broken promise.”

Perfect response! It highlights the lack of transparency without going all “what did he know and when did he know it.” And it emphasizes how everything Barack says comes with an expiration date. It’s the kind of response likely to make voters say to themselves, “Yeah, he said he’d be transparent. Why isn’t he doing that? Hmmmmm…”

Rational Thought on June 20, 2012 at 1:58 PM

I just read the POLITICO article “2012 the smallest campaign ever” wherein POLITICO bitches, carps and whines about the campaign being ‘small ball’ and boring and how both camps are in a ‘defensive crouch’ and wont’ wax philosophical on the larger issues of the day.

I couldn’t help thinking that if POLITICO and the main stream media would actual REPORT and cover the major issues of the day, perhaps they wouldn’t be so very BORED.

In a rather long complaint about how this campaign season doesn’t hold the interest and excitement for them of 2008 there was not a solitary mention of OBAMA’S latest executive order, which constitutes a de facto admission that Obama has some involvement with FAST AND FURIOUS, either before, during or after, and since Eric Holder and others in the DOJ have TESTIFIED before congress that the White House had no involvement or knowledge of FAST AND FURIOUS, I suppose that there will, at the very least, be charges of perjury against many of these individuals. The echoes of WATERGATE are redolent and robust. This de fact admission, by Obama, that he knew, at any given point, about the DOJ’s operation known as “FAST AND FURIOUS” IS A CAMPAIGN ISSUE.

The DOJ Operation “FAST AND FURIOUS” which resulted in the death of federal agents and hundreds of Mexican nationals, is not SMALL BALL.

The tacit admission by the president, through the issuance of an executive order claiming executive privilege on the matter, IS NOT SMALL BALL.

A president who increasingly seeks to by pass congress, and because they are literally our proxies in Washington D. C. the American people, and impose his own will upon the nation as law by means of executive order, AKA decree, is not SMALL BALL.

The main stream media, outlets like POLITICO, left wing bloggers, have made themselves “SMALL BALL” by virtue of their willful obfuscation of legitimate and vital news events relating to this presidency and administration. Like Hollywood, its a good thing that they throw their own awards parties and grant one another awards, which,in the case of the main stream media and the left wing blogosphere are ostensibly for their … ahem…. ‘journalism’ and ‘journalistic integrity’…. because NO ONE ELSE EVER WOULD.

Like Hollywood, by blind adherence to the endless messaging of their ideological driven partisanship and all consuming egoism in the false notion that they, and they alone, shape and inform public opinion, they are making themselves obsolete. THAT’S “Small ball”.

thatsafactjack on June 20, 2012 at 1:59 PM

House lefties flee…to avoid contempt vote.

Schadenfreude on June 20, 2012 at 1:28 PM

I’m not sure you need a quorum to pass something like this out of committee (because it still has to go to a floor vote). Let them scurry away like the disgusting rats that they are.

Happy Nomad on June 20, 2012 at 1:35 PM

Not sure that Dems fleeing the premises stops a Committee vote. From THE RULES OF THE COMMITTEE ON OVERSIGHT AND GOVERNMENT REFORM U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES – 112TH CONGRESS:

Rule 3 — Quorums
(a) A majority of the members of the committee shall form a quorum, except that two members shall constitute a quorum for taking testimony and receiving evidence, and one third of the members shall form a quorum for taking any action other than for which the presence of a majority of the committee is otherwise required.

Rule 5 — Record Votes
(a) A record vote of the members may be had upon the request of any member upon approval of a one-fifth vote of the members present.
(b) Pursuant to House Rule XI, clause 2 (h)(4), the chairman is authorized to postpone further proceedings when a record vote is ordered on the question of approving a measure or matter…

At any event, seems like someone could introduce a hold Holder in contempt measure directly on the House floor if Boehner so desired. Boehner… sigh…

de rigueur on June 20, 2012 at 2:03 PM

Emperor Hussein is far more transparent than he realizes.

NickDeringer on June 20, 2012 at 2:23 PM

F&F: What Did The POTUS Know & When Did He Know It?

http://predicthistunpredictpast.blogspot.com/2012/06/f-what-did-potus-know-when-did-he-know.html

M2RB: RUSH

Resist We Much on June 20, 2012 at 2:38 PM

Obamixon. Actually Obamixon made a strategic error by saving his AG from a House contempt vote.

1 The contempt vote would have failed because all the Democratss and some chicken Republicans would not have supported it.

2 A bitter and chaotic internicene battle between Republicans who voted for and against the contempt measure would have ensued.

3 Obamixon, who up until now has remain aloof and detached from the Fast and Furious scandal has jumped into the bathtub with all his clothes on. Now Obamixon is involved-if not into what speculatively occurred (which probably went no higher than Holder)but in the perceived cover-up…up to his eye balls.Without Executive Privilege, Obama could have remained a detached and presumably innocent bystander.

4 After the failed vote an alliance of Democrats and their MSM talking head allies would drum up faux racism charges-Holder is black and was persecuted solely for that reason by Jim Crow Republicans–a “legislative lynching.”

MaiDee on June 20, 2012 at 3:41 PM

Good summary and description of what “executive privilege” is and isn’t at this link: http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/303402/obama-invokes-executive-privilege-shannen-w-coffin#more

natasha333 on June 20, 2012 at 4:25 PM

Obama makes Richard Nixon look like a boy scout.

So they claim executive privilege to avoid testifying about a failed drug operation that is of no active security concern because it’s over, while, at the same time, leaking highly classified material about ongoing counterterrorism activities to the press. Nice.

talkingpoints on June 20, 2012 at 4:40 PM

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