Fox’s Ed Henry and White House spokesman Josh Earnest got into a little Fast and Furious discussion today. The reporter asked Earnest to comment on why President Obama invoked executive privilege to cover more than 15,000 documents related to the deadly gun running scandal.
Earnest balked at answering, then relied on an irrelevant talking point. Take a look.
Here is a transcript of the exchange.
HENRY: “The conservative group Judicial Watch has just put out a statement yesterday I believe saying that the president months ago invoked executive privilege on Fast & Furious included 20 e-mails between the Attorney General, his wife, and his mother. And I was wondering, did the Attorney General talk about this sensitive gun-running operation with his wife and his mother and that’s why you had to invoke executive privilege?”
EARNEST: “Well, Ed, I refer you to the Department of Justice.”
HENRY: “It wasn’t Department of Justice privilege, it was executive privilege. It was invoked by the president, not the Attorney General.”
EARNEST: “I can tell you that it’s the Department of Justice that can discuss those e-mails with you. What is clear is that this lawsuit that has been filed by Judicial Watch actually doesn’t have anything to do with the actual Fast & Furious operation. It has to do with e-mails and documents related to the operation. More than 7,500 pages of those documents have already been turned over to Congress, which obviously has thoroughly reviewed this situation. They’ve conducted countless interviews. the Inspector General has as well. This is something that has been thoroughly investigated.”
HENRY: “But if there was nothing sensitive in the e-mails that the Attorney General sent to his wife and mom, presumably they could have been turned over.”
EARNEST: “Well, I know that, again, 7,500 pages of documents were turned over both to the Inspector General as well as to Democrats and Republicans in Congress who were investigating this issue. So, we have demonstrated I think a pretty clear commitment to legitimate oversight on this matter and others.”
Which intentionally does not answer the question that Ed Henry was asking, which was, why did Obama invoke executive privilege over documents including communications between AG Eric Holder, and his wife and his mother? That is not a question for Justice, but for the White House and the president. The “most transparent White House in history” won’t tell you.
Judicial Watch has had more time since yesterday to examine the Vaughn index, and has come to the conclusion that Obama friend Valerie Jarrett is right in the middle of the scandal.
Practically lost in the 1,000-plus pages of records is an index that shows Jarrett was brought in to manage the fact that Holder lied to Congress after the story about the disastrous gun-running operation broke in the media. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco Firearms and Explosives (ATF) ran the once-secret program that allowed guns from the U.S. to be smuggled into Mexico so they could eventually be traced to drug cartels. Instead, federal law enforcement officers lost track of hundreds of weapons which have been used in an unknown number of crimes, including the murder of a U.S. Border Patrol agent in Arizona.
The files received by JW include three electronic mails between Holder and Jarrett and one from former U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke to Jarrett. The e-mails with Holder are all from October 4, 2011, a significant date because, on the evening of October 3rd, Sheryl Attkisson (then at CBS news) released documents showing that Holder had been sent a briefing paper on Operation Fast and Furious on June 5, 2010. The paper was from the director of the National Drug Intelligence Center, Michael Walther.
This directly contradicted Holder’s May 3, 2011 testimony to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, during which he stated that he, “probably heard about Fast and Furious for the first time over the last few weeks.” The October 4, 2011 date may also be significant because it came shortly after the August 30, 2011 resignation of U.S. Attorney for Arizona Dennis Burke and reassignment of acting ATF director Kenneth Melson to the position of “senior forensics advisor” at DOJ.
The description of one of the e-mails, written from Jarrett to Holder, reads, “re: personnel issues.” Another, also from Jarrett, reads, “outlining and discussing preferred course of action for future responses in light of recent development in congressional investigation.” Unfortunately, the index is vague and that’s all the information we have about them. Nevertheless, given the timing and subject of these e-mails, it seems clear that Jarrett quickly became a key player in the Fast and Furious cover-up in the immediate aftermath of the revelation that Holder had lied to Congress.