DOJ wonders if federal court wouldn’t mind just dismissing Fast & Furious lawsuit
posted at 4:01 pm on October 17, 2012 by Erika Johnsen
Surprise, surprise — it looks like the Justice Department is hoping that maaaaybe we can all just settle our differences and move on from that whole stonewalling, contempt-charge, executive-privilege, deadly Fast-and-Furious debacle, via the NYT:
The Justice Department has asked a federal court to dismiss a lawsuit by the House oversight committee seeking to compel the Obama administration to release more internal records involving the botched gun-trafficking case known as Operation Fast and Furious.
The judiciary should play no role in a dispute like this one between the executive and legislative branches, the department said — one in which the White House has asserted executive privilege over its internal deliberations, and the House of Representatives has voted to hold Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. in contempt for refusing to comply with the committee’s demands.
“Disputes of this sort have arisen regularly since the founding,” the department said in a brief filed Monday night in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. “For just as long, these disputes have been resolved between the political branches through a constitutionally grounded system of negotiation, accommodation, and self-help.”
As you might suspect, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) isn’t such a huge fan of that idea, according to a statement issued Tuesday (h/t Doug Mataconis):
WASHINGTON – Today, Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa issued the following statement on the Justice Department’s request for dismissal of legal action requiring the production of subpoenaed documents related to Operation Fast and Furious.
“The Obama Administration’s argument should trouble Americans who believe the President and the Federal government are not above the law. In perpetuating a cover-up, through false and misleading statements that even the Justice Department’s own Inspector General found troubling, the Obama administration argued for months that it did not have to meet its legal obligations to a lawfully issued congressional subpoena. Now, the Department is advancing arguments – already rejected by the federal judiciary – that our court system does not have jurisdiction to ensure accountability either. The American people deserve to know the full truth about what happened in Operation Fast and Furious and why top justice officials stood behind false denials of reckless conduct.”
It may be true that the judiciary more usually tries to stay out of legislative-executive disputes and let them resolve things amongst themselves, but the Fast and Furious investigation came this far for a reason — the Justice Department’s relentless stonewalling, and President Obama’s invocation of executive privilege, make it desperately apparent that there’s more going on here than the executive branch wants anyone else to know about, be it flagrant top-level incompetence or something much worse. I particularly enjoyed the way Mitt Romney used the Second-Amendment question to bring up Fast & Furious during the debate last night, openly wondering, “For what purpose [Fast and Furious] was put in place, I can’t imagine. … I’d like to understand who it was that did this, what the idea was behind it, what the idea was behind this.” Indeed, Governor. Indeed.
Update: Oops, I had the wrong video clip embedded initially — click the image to watch.