“Fast and Furious” scandal goes “full Watergate,” White House asserts Executive Privilege — UPDATED

June 20, 2012

“I am not a crook!”

Shades of Richard Nixon. Faced with a contempt of Congress citation for failure to produce subpoenaed documents, Attorney General Eric Holder apparently went to his boss, President Obama, and asked for a little cover.

He got it:

President Obama has granted an 11th-hour request by Attorney General Eric Holder to exert executive privilege over Fast and Furious documents, a last-minute maneuver that appears unlikely to head off a contempt vote against Holder by Republicans in the House.

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is expected to forge ahead with its meeting on the contempt resolution anyway. 

This is a slap in the face to the committee and practically guarantees a contempt vote. I’m willing to bet it will backfire on the Obama administration, too; anyone who remembers the Nixon years, when executive privilege was abused to hide administration culpability in the Watergate scandal, will now be asking a simple question: “What have they got to hide?”  Or, as Gabe Malor put it on Twitter this morning:

Yesterday, I didn’t believe there was anything in the F&F docs worth hiding. Today, I’m absolutely convinced there is.

Chairman Issa, meanwhile, has said the committee plans to move forward with the contempt vote.

That’s well and good, and it may be a necessary preliminary step, but impeachment of the Attorney General must now be a serious consideration. I haven’t really thought this worthwhile up to now, since we’re so close to the election, and the chances of conviction in the Senate were minimal, but the House must defend its legitimate authority to investigate and hold accountable the government it funds with the money of the people it represents. This assertion of privilege is wholly unjustified and an abuse of a doctrine meant to preserve the ability of the president and his cabinet officers to receive unguarded advice or preserve classified information.

Two US federal officers and over 300 Mexicans have been killed with weapons provided under Fast and Furious, and their survivors and the American and Mexican public deserve answers.

If a contempt citation doesn’t work, then it’s time to impeach Eric Holder.

RELATED: Other posts on Operation Fast and Furious.

via ST

PS: And let’s not forget that supplying arms to armed groups fighting the Mexican government is by most reasonable understandings an act of war. Are we at war with Mexico, Mr. President?

LINKS: Lots of people covering this — Pirate’s Cove, Michelle Malkin, The PJ Tatler, Ace of Spades, Jammie Wearing Fool, Erika Johnsen, Ed Morrissey, Legal Insurrection, Breitbart, and Obi’s Sister.

UPDATE: Wanted to pull this directly from the linked Tatler post; it has important implications:

In the landmark case that spells out presidential executive privilege, United States vs Nixon (1974), the Supreme Court found that executive privilege pertains to communications directly with the president, and otherwise limited the scope of executive privilege. Today’s move by the White House implies either that Fast and Furious reaches directly into the Oval Office, or that the White House is challenging the Nixon ruling. Either way, today’s assertion is a major escalation of the scandal.

So, Mr. President. Are you admitting you knew all about Operation Fast and Furious all along?

UPDATE II: A couple of great informational posts from Gabriel Malor relevant to today’s news, one on contempt of Congress and the other on executive privilege.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


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