by Joe Newby
On Wednesday, President Obama invoked executive privilege to protect documents related to “Fast and Furious,” prompting conservatives to allege a cover-up by the White House hours before a House committee voted to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress.
“Until now, everyone believed that the decisions regarding ‘Fast and Furious’ were confined to the Department of Justice,” said Brendan Buck, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH).
“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. The Administration has always insisted that wasn’t the case. Were they lying, or are they now bending the law to hide the truth?” he asked.
Conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh said Wednesday that President Obama invoked executive privilege to protect himself.
“Obama has never explained the details of what occurred to anybody — not the media, not investigators, not Congress,” he said on his radio show. “He is the head of the executive branch, so he asserts executive privilege. Meanwhile, he pretends that he knew nothing, but he’s trying to protect himself.”
“Don’t tell me that Obama is protecting every president here. Don’t tell me that he’s asserting executive privilege to protect the executive branch. He doesn’t care,” he added. “Don’t tell me that he’s asserting executive privilege here for all future presidents. Don’t tell me, cause he doesn’t care. They don’t want us to see what’s in these documents.”
A post at PJ Media noted:
Presidents typically assert executive privilege over their own communications, and over sensitive military and security-related communications. Today’s move to grant executive privilege over what thus far appears to be a department-level scandal is highly unusual.
The post at PJ Media noted that the Supreme Court said that “executive privilege pertains to communications directly with the president,” while limiting the scope of executive privilege.
“Today’s move by the White House implies either that Fast and Furious reaches directly into the Oval Office, or that the White House is challenging the Nixon ruling. Either way, today’s assertion is a major escalation of the scandal,” Bryan Preston wrote.
The New York Times reported Wednesday that the President invoked executive privilege hoping to stop a House vote holding Attorney General in contempt of Congress.
The effort failed, as USA Today reported that a “House oversight committee voted Wednesday to hold Attorney General Eric Holder” in contempt.
According to USA Today, Holder told reporters following a meeting on Tuesday “that he offered to provide the documents on the condition that Issa give his assurance that doing so would satisfy two committee subpoenas and resolve the dispute.”
Rep. Issa (R-CA), however, said the conditions that Holder tried to set were unacceptable.
The last time an attorney general was held in contempt was 1998, when Attorney General Janet Reno was held in contempt over a campaign finance investigation.