President Obama’s assertion of executive privilege today is a bit like the kickoff for the NFL regular season. It doesn’t end the Fast and Furious scandal; it just takes it to another level. Everything so far was the pre-season. Now people will start to pay attention.
A president doesn’t assert executive privilege lightly. It is a relic from the powers of the king. Some things were not for parliament’s eyes, such as national security statecraft. This new phase of the Fast and Furious scandal begins with Americans who had paid no attention to the scandal hearing the news today and asking, “what are they trying to hide?”
The new phase might possibly include members of the old media asking why the Most Transparent Administration in History, isn’t. Or, it might see them going all out to defend their president.
Pay attention to how often they use the term “botched” gun running operation. This is government-generated language. If you read Pavlich’s book, you know there was nothing “botched” about Fast and Furious except the architecture. The government wants you to think the builders screwed up, not the anti-Second Amendment architects.
One thing executive privilege can’t accomplish for Eric Holder is hiding his Department’s wrongdoing. Richard Nixon got that scolding from the Supreme Court in 1974 in a case deliciously named United States v. Nixon.
In that case, the Supreme Court held,
neither the doctrine of separation of powers nor the need for confidentiality of high-level communications, without more, can sustain an absolute, unqualified Presidential privilege of immunity from judicial process under all circumstances.
Executive privilege cannot be used to cover up criminal wrongdoing, such as lying to Congress.