UPDATED -9:56 a.m. EST: President Obama has asserted executive privilege over documents relating to Operation Fast & Furious following a request by Attorney General Eric Holder.
This privilege, not defined in the United States Constitution, allows the president to withhold information from the courts which he believes may jeopardize national security. Though practiced since 1792, the Supreme Court validated the use of executive privilege in United States v. Nixon. It was last employed by former President George W. Bush in the case of Walker v. Cheney.
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) has called this move into question, implying that the White House may actually have had knowledge of Fast and Furious: “How can the President exert executive privilege over documents he’s supposedly never seen? Is something very big being hidden to go to this extreme?”
Darrell Issa , chairman of The House Oversight Committee, announced Tuesday that he has decided to move forward with a vote to consider a report holding Eric Holder in contempt of Congress over the Attorney General???s failure to hand over documents related to the ???Fast and Furious??? investigation. The vote on a resolution is scheduled at 10 a.m. Wednesday.
Earlier Tuesday, Issa met with Holder and other top Democrats and Republicans on the Judiciary Committee. In a statement Issa wrote, ???Today, the attorney general informed us that the department would not be producing those documents. The only offer they made involved us ending our investigation.???
This, from the Advisory: Oversight Committee to Consider Operation Fast and Furious Contempt Report on June 11:
???While the Justice Department can still stop the process of contempt, this will only occur through the delivery of the post February 4, 2011, documents related to Operation Fast and Furious and whistleblower accusations subpoenaed by the Committee. If the Attorney General decides to produce these subpoenaed documents, I am confident we can reach agreement on other materials and render the process of contempt unnecessary.???
Holder says that Issa rejected ???an extraordinary offer??? as he has handed over an unprecedented amount of information. ???We are involved in political gamesmanship as opposed to trying to get the information,??? Holder told reporters Tuesday night. Yet, the only excuse offered by the attorney general for failing to hand over documents sought by Congress seems to be that he???s handed over other documents. Hardly compelling. Issa is especially interested in a Feb. 4, 2011 now-redacted letter from the Department of Justice that stated the department tried to stop guns from ending up in the hands of Mexican criminals.