Obama blocks Fast and Furious documents from House investigation

The latest from the most transparent, accountable administration ever (via CNN):

President Barack Obama has asserted executive privilege over document sought by a House committee investigating the botched Fast and Furious gun-running sting, said a letter to the panel Wednesday from Deputy Attorney Gen. James Cole. The move means the Department of Justice can withhold the documents from the panel.

With that maneuver, Obama has guaranteed a story that has played out mostly under the radar of the mainstream press (including, I must acknowledge, on my own blog) will be thrust into the headlines. A House committee is holding a contempt hearing this morning over Attorney General Eric Holder’s lack of cooperation in its investigation of the operation, in which our government allowed hundreds of guns to be smuggled across the Mexican border. The guns subsequently were connected to the deaths of Mexican citizens and U.S. border agent Brian Terry.

Holder has been engaged in a standoff with House Republicans over documents related to the operation. The president has denied any knowledge of the operation, but his invoking executive privilege now puts the issue squarely at his doorstep.

Previous presidents from both parties have invoked executive privilege in the face of congressional investigations. It’s kind of like pleading the Fifth Amendment: In theory, it preserves one’s innocence, but the average observer is likely to infer the opposite and wonder what the administration is trying to hide.

For an idea of how Republicans might frame this issue in the election, check out this video by the American Future Fund (h/t: Power Line):

Expect this issue to pick up steam in the days and weeks ahead.

– By Kyle Wingfield

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310 comments Add your comment

Grasshopper

June 20th, 2012
10:48 am

Holder and his department have blood on their hands.

Obama is now officially involved in the cover-up.

At least Nixon’s gang didn’t actually kill anyone.

ByteMe

June 20th, 2012
10:49 am

The actual letter to Issa and executive branch reasoning behind invoking “executive privilege” is detailed here.

The politics are that there was always going to be a contempt vote, because having an AG approve torture is ok with Republicans, but not a gun-selling sting operation.

ByteMe

June 20th, 2012
10:50 am

Hmmmmmmmmm

June 20th, 2012
10:50 am

Hope and Change…… Indeed! I can’t wait to hear all the excuses from the left….

Guitarguy

June 20th, 2012
10:55 am

Why is this not on the front page of AJC.com? I would expect that AJC would make this a prominent story on their website and front page news tomorrow. This is why conservatives call newspapers like this the “mainstream media”…

Peace

June 20th, 2012
10:57 am

What would Mr. Holder’s response be to the F&F inquiry, and that of President Obama, if the murder had involved a 17-year-old black male near the border with Mexico, instead of a white U.S. Border Patrol agent. Just wondering.

That's Goofy

June 20th, 2012
10:58 am

Can’t rip Obama if you supported W for doing the same thing. Hiding behind Executive Privilege is wrong.

tiredofIT

June 20th, 2012
10:59 am

The White House invoked executive privilege yesterday in withholding subpoenaed documents on fired U.S. attorneys — Bush – June 2007

Old timer

June 20th, 2012
11:02 am

I thought Obama had never seen the documents….

Pizzaman

June 20th, 2012
11:03 am

“engaged in a standoff with house Republicans”? Isn’t that what the house Repubs do–standoff?

tiredofIT

June 20th, 2012
11:05 am

Another republican distraction.

ragnar danneskjold

June 20th, 2012
11:05 am

Turns out that “Fast and Furious” was a secret plan to arm Iranian rebels. This is surely the stupidest assertion of executive privilege since Watergate, which seemingly is quickly becoming an apt analogy.

Pizzaman

June 20th, 2012
11:06 am

The market’s up and gas is down, except in GA. Who do we blame for that? ( I said except in GA because it’s $3.04 in SC and $3.09 in AL and still $3.20 here)

Vast Right Wing Conspiracy

June 20th, 2012
11:06 am

I can see President Kardashian on TV now – “I am not a crook”.

Kyle Wingfield

June 20th, 2012
11:07 am

ByteMe: Lots of words subject to interpretation there. One guesses the DOJ, more so than the Congress, feels the steps it has taken are “many,” that the amount of information was “significant,” and the resources expended to comply with congressional requests “substantial.”

Ayn Rant

June 20th, 2012
11:07 am

Congress is not qualified to “investigate” anything; a congressional “investigation” is just political grandstanding for the media. Besides, shouldn’t Congress busy itself with developing a federal budget, raising the debt ceiling, replacing the federal tax code, reigning in useless military expenditures, and a dozen or so other duties assigned them by the Constitution?

“Fast and Furious” appears to be a federal law enforcement ploy that went wrong. It should be investigated by professionals, with a report to the President, so that similar mistakes are avoided in the future. It should not be a political football.

mike

June 20th, 2012
11:07 am

What’s the problem. Haven’t other Presidents done this in the past?

carlosgvv

June 20th, 2012
11:08 am

Say,is this anything like the Iran-contra scandal?

Grasshopper

June 20th, 2012
11:08 am

Not surprised to see that the murder of federal agents is no big deal to Obama’s liberal base.

omg

June 20th, 2012
11:08 am

ByteMe

June 20th, 2012
10:49 am

We are using YOUR definition of torture right?

omg

June 20th, 2012
11:09 am

King of Kings, OBAMA!

omg

June 20th, 2012
11:10 am

Ayn Rant

June 20th, 2012
11:07 am
When you answer the questions then the inquiry will end. You do understand that–right?

ragnar danneskjold

June 20th, 2012
11:11 am

It’s not that “executive privilege” is inherently wrong – it is not. There are surely policy debates that ought to be privileged, to allow people to throw around ideas for exploration, and consideration of political implications within those debates is both appropriate and still has the appearance of impropriety. Here, however, the actions of the department itself are what appear to be wrong, illegal, and the basis for the decision to take those actions are undoubtedly in the public interest. The assertion of “executive privilege” here is arguably worse than in Watergate, where the assertion was to preserve the executive’s “post crime” legal counsel – here the legal advice itself is the crime.

Of course, the great joke in Watergate was that the crime was committed by the Counsel for the White House, and all actions after that were based on the Counsel’s attempt to cover up his own crime. Now that I put it that way, it sounds just like Fast and Furious.

Cutty

June 20th, 2012
11:15 am

Only Kyle and the Cons would try to a hold an Attorney General in contempt for stopping a program that was started by Bush (Google Operation Wide Receiver). Where was Issa and his investigation then? Holder has provided of 8,000 pages of documents. The remaining documents the Cons want hold sensitive law enforcement activities and are part of an ongoing investigation. When Kyle provides additional information on Operation Wide Receiver, then I’ll believe that this is a real issue. Otherwise its just him and the Cons trying to make something out of nothing.

ragnar danneskjold

June 20th, 2012
11:15 am

Carlosgv raises the best question – Reagan waived executive privilege to get to the bottom of Iran Contra. Perhaps we can all agree that Chauncey is no Reagan.

Rafe Hollister, suffering through Oblamer's ineptocracy

June 20th, 2012
11:16 am

Kyle, several months ago you wrote a column about all the things that might prevent Oblamer from getting reelected. I pointed out that you left our F/F, never did understand why. This was a Nixonian plot from the getgo to reshape public opinion that would come to bear on Congress and force them to reconsider gun sales.

Well, he has played hob, as they say out west. Hopefully, the people will pay attention and focus on the deception and lies that come out of this lawless regime. The House should go ahead and vote on the Contempt resolution, as Holder was in violation of the subpoena long before the documents were “protected by Oblamer”.

Fast and Furious will be Oblamer’s “Watergate” and hopefully his “Waterloo”.

clyde

June 20th, 2012
11:18 am

To this unknowing lad,it would seem that there are facts being hidden.Now I realize this may not be the case,but I’d wager a fiver that I’m right.

ragnar danneskjold

June 20th, 2012
11:18 am

Dear Cutty @ 11:15, Fast and Furious aborted in 2010. There is no value in any “ongoing” investigation, as the statute of limitations is past.

nomobama

June 20th, 2012
11:20 am

Something really smells with this administration, and it doesnt have anything to do with a certain kind of body odor…you feel me? It does have everything to do with the POTUS and his cronies running roughshot over our constitution…on every opportunity just to keep these bozos in office at any cost. How anyone, loony lib or not, can vote for this wannabe dictator is beyond any logical and intelligent thought…

gm

June 20th, 2012
11:20 am

The fast and furious was started under Bush administration why no hearings then? oh, I forgot it was under GW who did what ever he wanted and the right nut jobs were silent, Holder shut this program down and now he is getting the blame.

Holder is the most consistant Atty General we have had in years, how many resign under Bush or were disgraced?

Cutty

June 20th, 2012
11:21 am

Yeah, well the program began in 2006 under Bush. Where were all you Monday morning QBs then??? Too busy cleaning your ‘W. The President.’ bumper stickers. What happened to those anyway/

Larry Pelham

June 20th, 2012
11:22 am

This is a claim that the president is involved. Period, end of story.

ByteMe

June 20th, 2012
11:22 am

ByteMe: Lots of words subject to interpretation there.

That’s why they pay lawyers the big bucks to write letters like that. :)

The relevent passage on the last page, though, is this:

In brief, the compelled production to Congress of these internal Executive Branch documents generated in the course of the deliberative process concerning the Department’s response to congressional oversight and related media inquiries … would inhibit the candor of such Executive Branch deliberations in the future and significantly impair the Executive Branch’s ability to respond independently and effectively to congressional oversight.

As someone pointed out, above, same logic was used to keep Congress from seeing how Karl Rove had Federal Attorneys fired for not chasing bogus “voter fraud” claims. And, yes, I thought that was annoying then, but I can also now see how it’s the same basic principle. At a certain point, the two branches are either equal or they’re not. The Constitution says they are equal, which means oversight can only extend so far. I’m less annoyed now about the Attorneys being fired :)

Peace

June 20th, 2012
11:23 am

Brian Terry wasn’t “….a real issue.” And that is the mentality of the Libs and Demoncrats.

Jimmy62

June 20th, 2012
11:23 am

My lefties friends have been trying to convince me that there’s nothing to Fast and Furious because if it was a big deal they would have heard about it on CNN. I can’t seem to convince them that it’s not on CNN BECAUSE it’s a big deal. Maybe this will change their minds. After all, if there’s nothing to hide then why is the administration going through so much effort to hide things?

Cutty: Love the oft-repeated canard, who do you get your talking points from? Wide Receiver was a little different. The difference? In Wide Receiver they actively tracked the guns they let loose. In Fast and Furious they let the guns loose and then didn’t try to track them till they showed up at the scene of a dead American LEO.

But keep spreading the misinformation, maybe someone somewhere will believe you.

OBIWAN

June 20th, 2012
11:23 am

How is an oversight committee supposed to do their job without the information it needs to do their job? Obozo is as transparent as mud…

ByteMe

June 20th, 2012
11:24 am

We are using YOUR definition of torture right?

Nope. We’re using the one in the treaties our country signed and are sworn to uphold.

Rafe Hollister, suffering through Oblamer's ineptocracy

June 20th, 2012
11:24 am

Holder is the most consistant Atty General we have had in years, how many resign under Bush or were disgraced?

Yep, a regular John Mitchell, he is!

ragnar danneskjold

June 20th, 2012
11:25 am

Our leftist friends mislead. Program consideration began, in low levels, during the Bush administration. The purpose of the Fast and Furious program was to marshal public sentiment against widespread domestic sale of guns – a purpose at conflict with the laissez faire view of the 2nd Amendment during the Bush years. Fast and Furious, as a concept, rose quickly during the Obama administration due to the leftist antagonism to the 2nd Amendment, thus becoming a (typically misplaced) priority of Eric Holder. The foreseeable consequences of the secret program are blood on the hands of the leftists, only.

Cutty

June 20th, 2012
11:26 am

Executive Privilege by President:

Obama- 1
W.- 6
Clinton- 14

So stop your ignorant yapping about trampling on the Constitution, nomobama. Bush and Reagan did the same thing.

Tommy Maddox

June 20th, 2012
11:27 am

At least Obama can no longer use the Sgt. Schultz line of “I know nothing; I see nothing”.

The hits keep coming.

Rafe Hollister, suffering through Oblamer's ineptocracy

June 20th, 2012
11:27 am

In brief, the compelled production to Congress of these internal Executive Branch documents generated in the course of the deliberative process concerning the Department’s response to congressional oversight and related media inquiries … would inhibit the candor of such Executive Branch deliberations in the future and significantly impair the Executive Branch’s ability to respond independently and effectively to congressional oversight.

In other words, we would like a little “flexibility here”. Kinda like what we will have if we are reelected. Dictatorial flexibility?

ragnar danneskjold

June 20th, 2012
11:27 am

Dear Byte @ 11:22, good morning. Firing Federal employees, even Federal prosecutors, is legal, and within the sole discretion of the Executive. Proffering an illegal distribution of guns, in order to marshal public sentiment against the Constitution, is not legal, and reflects typical leftist mentality. The analogy you cite is bogus.

gm

June 20th, 2012
11:28 am

GW Bush is the only President that can not leave the country, because he will be convicted under war crimes by the UN, where are the hearings on letting 4500 American Troops die for no cause or the the bad security letting 3500 Americans die in NY 911?

For all you Obama haters 4 years ago you bigots and haters could not even board a plane for fear of your life but this great President made it safe what a bunch of ungrateful fake Americans.

Cutty

June 20th, 2012
11:28 am

Jimmy62- Fox said the same thing as you. Almost verbatim, lol.

Obama/Biden 2012

June 20th, 2012
11:29 am

Check and Mate!

MiltonMan

June 20th, 2012
11:29 am

The Holder DOJ = a Joke:

(1) Failed to convict Roger Clemens; star witness was a proven liar
(2) Shelby COunty, Al vs. Holder – another lost for the lawyer wannabe
(3) Fast & Furious debacle
(4) etc.
(5) etc.

This guy is a clown.

ragnar danneskjold

June 20th, 2012
11:30 am

Dear Cutty @ 11:26, assertion of executive privilege is not inherently wrong; asserting the privilege to cover up a crime is wrong. Obama is unique that way.

jconservative

June 20th, 2012
11:30 am

I can’t imagine anyone would actually think that relations between the White House and Congress were political.

MiltonMan

June 20th, 2012
11:30 am

“The politics are that there was always going to be a contempt vote, because having an AG approve torture is ok with Republicans, but not a gun-selling sting operation”

Tell that to Brian Terry’s family.