- Post 21 June 2012
- By The Washington Times Editorial Staff
President Obama’s attempt to invoke executive privilege to forestall contempt-of-Congress proceedings against Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. failed. Instead, the claim elevates the dispute between the administration and Capitol Hill to a new and troubling level. The operative question now is, what did the president know and when did he know it?
The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee voted Wednesday to recommend a contempt charge against Mr. Holder. Since October, the Justice Department has refused to respond to a subpoena seeking 1,300 pages of documents related to the botched Fast and Furious Mexican gunrunning operation. Negotiations between the Justice Department and committee Chairman Darrell E. Issa, California Republican, broke down, and the contempt recommendation followed.
Mr. Obama’s last-minute move to extend the umbrella of executive privilege raises the question of whether the president or his staff had extensive prior knowledge of the operation, because this privilege can only be invoked when the chief executive’s office is involved. “Until now, everyone believed that the decisions regarding Fast and Furious were confined to the Department of Justice,” said Michael Steel, spokesman for House Speaker John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican. “The White House decision to invoke executive privilege implies that White House officials were either involved in the Fast and Furious operation or the cover-up that followed.” ... continues...