In a naked political move, President Obama has asserted executive privilege over the Fast & Furious documents that Chairman Darrell Issa’s committee has already seen:
WASHINGTON — Justice Dept says president has exerted executive privilege over Fast and Furious documents.
This is a losing fight for this administration. First, Chairman Issa’s committee has seen some of these documents. Second, Gen. Holder offered to brief Chairman Issa’s committee on the documents. Now he’s asking people to believe that these documents are classified. Third, this is a desperate attempt to hide this administration’s mistakes as it pertains to Operation Fast & Furious.
Fourth and most importantly, this stinks of coverup on the administration’s behalf. Regardless of what’s in the documents, people will now think that the information is damaging to this administration.
Check back later for more updates as they become available.
UPDATE: Chairman Issa is proceeding with the Contempt of Congress vote against Holder. This is about to get ugly for the administration.
UPDATE II: Let’s remember what this fight is about:
In particular, Issa’s committee wants documents that show why the Department of Justice decided to withdraw as inaccurate a February 2011 letter sent to Congress that said top officials had only recently learned about Fast and Furious.
This isn’t about information that might be used in criminal prosecutions against the gunrunners. It’s about the DoJ’s documents on why they lied to Chairman Issa’s committee.
UPDATE III: This picture captures it perfectly:
UPDATE IV: The hearing is getting testy:
But Issa’s Democratic counterpart, Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., fired back that Holder never made such a demand, and said the attorney general had come to the committee in “good faith” to try and work out an agreement.
Cummings said the upcoming contempt vote has “diminished” the prestige of the panel. “For the past year, you’ve been holding the Attorney General to an impossible standard,” he said, addressing Issa. “Mr. Chairman, it did not have to be this way. It really didn’t.”
Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., added that she was “horrified” by the panel’s looming vote, calling it a “political witch hunt” and accusing Republicans of “overruling” the president.
Rep. Cummings is wrong. It’s imperative that the vote happens. When the administration lies, then tries to ignores a congressional oversight committee’s subpoena for the documents, that committee must hold the administration accountable.
UPDATE V: Rep. Trey Gowdy made a great point during his statement. First, Democrats suggested that Chairman Issa was grandstanding and that he should’ve negotiated a deal. Rep. Gowdy replied that there isn’t a U.S. attorney that would subpoena documents from a government agency, then accept a deal where the agency first stonewalls the investigation, then accept a briefing but none of the documents they subpoenaed.
When this makes it to the courts, the administration will lose because they’re trying to hide documents, not of internal discussions on policy, pertaining to how they can play things after lying to Congress.
UPDATE VI: Here’s the video of Rep. Gowdy’s statement:
Incensed and passionate throughout, Rep. Gowdy delivered this shot at Gen. Holder:
Our fellow citizens, the ones we’re supposed to work for, when they get a jury summons, do you think they have choice on whether to comply? When they get a subpoena from the law enforcement agency, do you think our fellow citizens get to offer an extraordinary accomodation in lieu of providing the document?
Either Congress has the authority to send a subpoena and require full compliance or what we’ve been doing for the past 12 months has been a fool’s errand and we should never have discussed contempt. Either we have the right to the documents and we should get all of them or we have no business here.
And with respect to executive privilege, Mr. Chairman, I’m going to resist the temptation of Sen. Barack Obama’s position on executive privilege with President Obama’s position on executive privilege but I would just note that the juxtaposition is stark.
UPDATE VII: This morning, Dom Giordano of WPHT interviewed Brian Terry’s mother. Here’s what she said 3 minutes into the interview:
“[Brian] was a true American and I think he deserves the truth and I think everybody should know the truth,” she said. “And if this was a bad thing they did with Fast and Furious it should be acknowledged so it never happens to anybody else’s son.”
First, the administration should stop the spin immediately. After that, they should apologize to the Terry family for covering this up. Finally, they should stop this charade that they’re interested in justice.
Anyone who listens to Josephine Terry knows that their family deserves the truth. From that perspective, there’s no arguing against a grieving mother. There’s no spinning that. PERIOD.