Obama now claims executive privilege

This morning, moments before a House vote on Contempt of Congress by Eric Holder, the Attorney General, the White House announced that President Obama is invoking executive privilege. Holder requested the action in a letter to Obama.

He said making the documents public “would have significant, damaging consequences,” but he did not disclose whether Obama has been briefed or had another supervisory role in Fast and Furious.

This raises the question of whether there are Obama fingerprints on the policy. Some documents have been released and some others, including incriminating e-mails, have been leaked to the committee. So far, Obama’s name has not been found in the documents. His action will now raise suspicion and will force news media, that have minimized the scandal, to inform incredulous readers that it is a big deal after all.

Richard Nixon could have ignored the burglary of the DNC offices in 1972. We now know that nothing was found that would have tarnished his reputation. It was the coverup that damaged him fatally. The election is coming in 5 months. The Watergate story did not really break until after the 1972 election. This seems to be breaking much sooner and its effect on Obama’s chances are hard to predict. The coming Supreme Court decision on Obamacare may overshadow this story.

Sen. Chuck Grassley, ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, asked how Obama could assert executive privilege “if there is no White House involvement?”

A spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner said Obama’s move “implies that White House officials were either involved in the ‘Fast and Furious’ operation or the cover-up that followed.”

“The administration has always insisted that wasn’t the case. Were they lying, or are they now bending the law to hide the truth?” Brendan Buck said.

It doesn’t sound like it is going to subside anytime soon. It will be interesting to see if more leaks appear. The White House leaks like a sieve and not all are Obama fans, it seems.

Powerline writes that It won’t prevent Holder form being held in contempt.

Whether these consequences and concerns form the basis for a valid assertion of executive privilege is another matter. I’m no expert on the subject, nor do I know all of the ins-and-outs of the dispute between Holder and Issa’s Committee. However, when Congress has a sound basis for believing that the Executive branch lied to it over material matters as part of a coverup in the course of a legitimate congressional oversight investigation, regard for a proper balance in the relationship between Congress and the Executive argues strongly in favor of enabling Congress to obtain all documents relevant to the coverup, including those generated during the process through which the cover-up is reasonably believed to have occurred.

It will be interesting and may affect the election.

National Review Online has a piece that may explain the program.

an e-mail sent on July 14, 2010. After the operation, former ATF field operations assistant director Mark Chait e-mailed Bill Newell, then ATF’s Phoenix special agent in charge of Fast and Furious, to suggest a possible way to use Fast and Furious:
Bill — can you see if these guns were all purchased from the same (licensed gun dealer) and at one time. We are looking at anecdotal cases to support a demand letter on long gun multiple sales. Thanks.

This “demand letter” refers to the push for a policy that would require U.S. gun shops in southwestern states to report the sale of several rifles or shotguns to a single buyer. According to CBS, “Demand Letter 3 was so named because it would be the third ATF program demanding gun dealers report tracing information.”

This may have begun as an attempt to require licenses for long guns.

9 thoughts on “Obama now claims executive privilege”

  1. Let’s be clear. The DoJ recognizes that it gave a false statement to Congress. That’s not in dispute. The question is whether they did it on purpose and only withdrew it when it became clear that the lie would not work or they did it by accident and pulled it back as soon as they realized their mistake. Lying to Congress about an operation that was improperly launched and handled and led to the unnecessary deaths of hundreds without any benefit to the US and misused federal funds is what is under dispute. Getting to the bottom of why we broke pattern on a gun walking investigation in a way almost guaranteed to lead to unnecessary death is what we desperately need to find out and ideally before the election.

  2. This about gun control but, with the competence level of this administration, it quickly got out of hand. I’m not sure that Obama is all that good at intrigue. He seems to get tangled up in every policy move he makes.Maybe that’s why he delegated health care to Pelosi and Reid. Unfortunately, pigs are not race horses and never will be.

  3. This whole fiasco is headed for the Courts. Nothing will happen in time for this to affect the November elections.

  4. Miniter is helful, so are Adams and McCarthy. Our relationships with other countries have suffered dramatically in the last four years. The only consolation I have is that some seemed to rejoice in what they saw as the “UnAmericanness” of this president. But some didn’t rejoice and few (Chavez, Castro as exceptions?), knew exactly what that might mean. A majority of us, apparently, saw that as a good thing, too. Well, we see in Althouse’s growth of understanding the effect of this presidency. It may be constructive in the long run – or not.

  5. Michael,

    “… Obama is all that good at intrigue. He seems to get tangled up in every policy move he makes.”

    His problem is that intrigue and the consequences of policy all play out in the real world, not the shared delusion fantasy world of Leftist ideology that hatched them. I don’t care how much somebody believes that the speeding truck is an arbitrary metaphysical cultural construct of the patriarchal hegemony, it’s still going to hurt when it hits them.

  6. This was always about gun control. I remember very clearly, in 2009-2010, regularly hearing about how we needed gun control here in America because Mexican drug gangs kept buying guns here and using them for violence. It was a big push, but suddenly went down the memory hole when F&F was exposed.

  7. After Nixon’s death, archival data was released showing that Nixon considered destroying the later-subpoenaed Watergate tapes months before the taping system was revealed by Butterfield. It could be argued, that if he had done so then, and after the fact revealed that they had been already destroyed “for national security reasons” that there was no way that the bills of impeachment would have passed. He would have been able to ride it out.

    I just have a feeling, and I am laying down a marker here, that we may hear soon that the administration has destroyed the subpoenaed material. Whether they will be really destroyed is an open question; but given that the Executive now has asserted the power to choose which laws to enforce, when, and against who and gotten no pushback, it might be considered a good tactic by them. What are they going to do? Impeach? Not gonna happen. Cut off funding? Out of what budget?

    The media is trying not to cover this already. If it is a fait accompli, the scandal will die out.

    Subotai Bahadur

  8. I’ve held Mr. Holder in contempt for the last few years. President Obama, too. Not because of their political party, or their color. The actions they’ve taken since they assumed their current offices were more than sufficient justification in both cases.

    On the morning of President Obama’s assuming office I remember hoping, fervently, that I was wrong about the course his presidency would take, and that he would show the stature and wisdom to become what he claimed to be: a uniter, not a divider. I wished him all success, and truly hoped that he would surprise me. While fearing that he would remain what he’d been in his prior career: polished, facile, shallow, and petty.

    He did surprise me. By how actively bad a president he has been. I originally predicted he’d be another Carter. Now, that looks like an impossibly high standard for him to achieve. If nothing else because I never suspected President Carter of despising the average American. I’ve heard Carter’s presidency summed up as “Good man. Terrible President.” You could sum up Obama’s in half the words.

    And Eric Holder . . . is exactly the sort of appointee I would expect from such a man.

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