The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee filed a civil suit in Federal District Court for the District of Columbia today in an effort to force Attorney General Eric Holder to turn over committee-subpoenaed documents related to Operation Fast and Furious.
“While the Committee is entitled to all documents responsive to the Holder Subpoena that have not been produced, the Committee seeks in this action to enforce the Holder Subpoena only as to a limited subset of responsive documents, namely those documents relevant to the Department’s efforts to obstruct the Committee’s investigation,” the 41-page civil action states.
“The principal legal issue presented here is whether the Attorney General may withhold that limited subset on the basis of ‘Executive privilege’ where there has been no suggestion that the documents at issue implicate or otherwise involve any advice to the President, and where the Department’s actions do not involve core constitutional functions of the President,” the suit continues.
“No Court has ever held that ‘Executive privilege’ extends anywhere near as far as the Attorney General here contends that it does. Indeed, it is no exaggeration to say that the Attorney General’s conception of the reach of ‘Executive privilege,’ were it to be accepted, would cripple congressional oversight of Executive branch agencies, to the very great detriment of the Nation and our constitutional structure. Accordingly, the Committee asks this Court to reject the Attorney General’s assertion of ‘Executive privilege’ and order him forthwith to comply with the Committee’s subpoena.”
Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said that the filing would seek a ruling on President Obama’s 11th-hour action taken by the White House just minutes before a committee meeting that found Holder in contempt of Congress and sent the resolution to the full House, which was approved.
“President Obama exceeded his authority by asserting executive privilege over subpoenaed documents related to the Justice Department’s cover-up of Operation Fast and Furious,” said Issa. “Waiting nearly eight months after the subpoena had been issued to assert a meritless claim of privilege, the president’s decision was a calculated political maneuver designed to stop the release of documents until after November’s elections.”