Deputy Attorney Gen. James Cole has submitted a letter to the House Oversight Committee announcing that President Obama is implementing executive privilege for documents pertaining to the “Fast and Furious” gun-running operation.
This decision empowers the Department of Justice to withhold documents from the committee. The Oversight Committee is considering filing contempt charge against Attorney General Eric Holder.
The letter says:
“I write now to inform you that the President has asserted executive privilege over the relevant post-February 4, 2011, documents. We regret that we have arrived at this point, after the many steps we have taken to address the committee’s concerns and to accommodate the committee’s legitimate oversight interests regarding Operation Fast and Furious. Although we are deeply disappointed that the committee appears intent on proceeding with a contempt vote, the department remains willing to work with the Committee to reach a mutually satisfactory resolution of the outstanding issues.”
This decision is sure to get Republicans worked up and add fuel to the fire already burning over this issue, which has led to increased animosity between Holder and committee chairman, Darrell Issa (R-Calif.). Wednesday’s development added additional fury to the showdown between Issa and Holder over the demand from the committee to have the Department of Justice to turn over more documents about the Fast and Furious operation.
Following a meeting Tuesday, Holder told reporters that he offered to provide the documents on the condition that Issa gave his assurance that doing so would satisfy two committee subpoenas and resolve the dispute. CNN reports, “they rejected what I thought was an extraordinary offer on our part,’ Holder said. (When) asked about whether Issa was open to resolving the issue before the committee meets Wednesday, Holder said: ‘I think we actually are involved more in political gamesmanship” instead of a sincere effort to get the requested documents.”
Issa’s committee is seeking documents explaining why the Department of Justice has requested to withdraw a letter from February 2011 as inaccurate. The letter said that top officials had just recently learned about the Fast and Furious operation. Cole said that the letter, which was dated February 4, 2011, was part of an effort to obstruct an investigation being conducted by Congress. “The answer to that question is an emphatic ‘no’ and we have offered the Committee the opportunity to satisfy itself that that is so,” Cole wrote.
The ranking Democrat on the committee, Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, said he felt that Holder was trying to end a relentless standoff with the Republican-led committee. “He sees this as a never-ending process,” Cummings said in describing Holder’s concerns about the continuing requests for more documentation, reports USA Today. The report continues: “Another person in the room, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Pat Leahy, D-Vermont, said afterward that he supported Holder and appreciated ‘that he is going the extra mile to resolve this.’ However, Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa, the ranking Republican member of the Senate Judiciary Committee who also participated in the meeting, said Holder was seeking to get cleared before he actually turned over any of the requested information. The attorney general wants to trade a briefing and the promise of delivering some small, unspecified set of documents tomorrow for a free pass today,’ Grassley said afterward. ‘He wants to turn over only what he wants to turn over and not give us any information about what he’s not turning over. That’s unacceptable. I’m not going to buy a pig in a poke.”
This issue is sure to continue to raise skepticism of voters concerning the political process and that frustration will be seen at the polls in November. More and more voters are expressing frustration with the lack of the Republican Party’s ability to be satisfied with information they receive. It seems that once they receive information, they demand more. It is almost as if they are on some sort of witch hunt and they have no concern over what is wrong or right, but instead only satisfied with fueling rage and anger.
This will no doubt be the same as the issue over President Obama’s birth certificate. No matter how hard the Democrats try to work with Republicans, the Republicans continue to push for more. The birth certificate issue ended up being tossed out by the Supreme Court. Hopefully that won’t be necessary every time the Republicans go on a witch hunt.