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The Campaign Spot

Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.

Eric Holder Should Become a Campaign Issue Today



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From the Thursday edition of the Morning Jolt:

Today, Eric Holder Loves Executive Privilege

So if Mitt Romney wanted something else to talk about besides what he meant when he made his comment about the “very poor,” he could always address this testimony coming from Attorney General Eric Holder, to be delivered today:

As I testified in a previous hearing, the Department does not intend to produce additional deliberative materials about the response to congressional oversight or media requests that postdate the commencement of congressional review. This decision is consistent with the long-standing approach taken by the Department, under both Democratic and Republican administrations, and reflects concerns for the constitutionally-protected separation of powers.

Prior administrations have recognized that robust internal communications would be chilled, and the Executive Branch’s ability to respond to oversight requests thereby impeded, if our internal communications concerning our responses to congressional oversight were disclosed to Congress. For both Branches, this would be an undesirable outcome. The appropriate functioning of the separation of powers requires that Executive Branch officials have the ability to communicate confidentially as they discuss how to respond to inquiries from Congress. I want to note that the separation of powers concerns are particularly acute here, because the Committee has sought information about open criminal investigations and prosecutions. This has required Department officials to confer about how to accommodate congressional oversight interests while also ensuring that critical ongoing law enforcement decision-making is not compromised, and is free from even the appearance of political influence. Such candid internal deliberations are necessary to preserve the independence, integrity, and effectiveness of the Department’s law enforcement activities and would be chilled by disclosure to Congress of such materials. Just as we have worked to accommodate the Committee’s legitimate oversight needs, I trust that the Committee will equally recognize the Executive Branch’s constitutional interests and will work with us to avoid further conflict on this matter.

A bit of background:

On the eve of U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.’s appearance before Congress, a senior Justice Department official said the agency cannot meet the deadline Republican lawmakers have set to turn over more documents on the “Fast and Furious” gun operation or be held in contempt of Congress.

Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole said that the Feb. 9 deadline to submit all documents on the botched gun operation set this week by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, was “impossible to meet.”

“We will continue in good faith to produce materials, but it simply will not be possible to finish the collection, processing and review of materials by the date sought in your most recent letter,” Cole wrote Tuesday in a five-page letter to Issa.

On Tuesday, Issa threatened to hold Holder in contempt if the Justice Department does not turn over the documents, which the panel subpoenaed in October.

Thus, the administration that took military action in Libya without any authorization from force from Congress, that appointed czars with policymaking authority without congressional confirmation, and that made “recess” appointments while Congress was not in recess is invoking executive privilege to cover how the Department of Justice reacted when Congress began asking about a gun-trafficking operation that got U.S. law enforcement officers murdered by Mexican drug cartels.

All from a president who railed against a runaway imperial presidency when George W. Bush sat in the office he currently occupies.


Tags: Barack Obama , Eric Holder , Fast and Furious


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