While the Fast and Furious “gun walking” investigation has been quietly plodding along since 2010, yesterday it exploded onto the national scene when President Obama invoked executive privilege to prevent the release of sensitive documents.
Obama’s eleventh-hour order came on the heels of a failed meeting between Attorney General Eric Holder and U.S. Representative Darrell Issa, who is heading up the investigation into the gun walking scandal. Holder offered the release of certain documents, but not full disclosure, prompting Issa and the investigation committee to vote to hold Holder in contempt. The full House of Representatives will hear the matter and vote next week.
This is Obama’s first time to use his executive powers to protect someone in his administration, but has his order come too late to help Holder? The Washington Post calls the move a way for presidents to “keep secrets from Congress,” but the validity of the order could be challenged in court.
After the meeting between Holder and Issa resulted in a stalemate, Holder requested that President Obama use his power to prevent the release of documents that would, “inhibit the candor of executive branch deliberations in the future and significantly impair the ability of the executive branch to respond independently and effectively to congressional oversight.”
Eric Holder released an official response on the DOJ website, claiming that he tried to accommodate the Fast and Furious investigation but that “Chairman Issa has rejected all of these efforts to reach a reasonable accommodation.”
Unfortunately for Eric Holder, his plea for President Obama’s protection might have come too late. Holder has testified under the guise that he was telling the whole truth, and now he claims that full disclosure could compromise “ongoing law enforcement investigations.” If that is so, Holder should have sought executive protection from the start of the investigation.