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Tags: Eric Holder

Ted Cruz: Eric Holder Should Appoint IRS Special Prosecutor or Be Impeached



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Attorney General Eric Holder should be impeached if he refuses to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the targeting of tea-party groups by the IRS, according to Senator Ted Cruz (R., Texas).

With the IRS claiming to have lost two years of former official Lois Lerner’s e-mails, Cruz is headed to the floor to introduce a resolution calling for the special prosecutor.

“He’s going to say, if Attorney General Holder does not appoint a special prosecutor, he should be impeached,” a Cruz aide told National Review Online. “Eric Holder has been at the center of every big scandal in this administration . . . If he doesn’t act on this issue, it’s perfectly appropriate for him to be impeached.”

Cruz believes that Holder’s failure to appoint a special prosecutor would rise to the level of “high crimes and misdemeanors,” the constitutional standard for impeachment.

Senate Democrats, of course, are very likely to block the resolution. House minority leader Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) articulated the party line last week when she was asked if she was suspicious of the hard-drive crash that the IRS says eradicated Lerner’s e-mails.

“What it convinces me [of] is that they need a new technology system at the IRS,” Pelosi told reporters. “They need to upgrade their technology, get it right, so that there’s no suspicion about what agenda anyone may have on that.”

Cruz suggested that Holder should be impeached in April, but the news that Lerner suggested that the IRS examine a speaking invitation for Senator Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa) gave rise to the latest proposal.

Tags: Eric Holder , Ted Cruz , IRS Scandal

Jindal: Bloomberg and Holder Are ‘Surprised We Can Tie Our Own Shoelaces’



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A particularly delicious segment of Governor Bobby Jindal’s remarks to the NRA Leadership Forum at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis this afternoon:

We must not let our opponents redefine what it means to be an American, and what it means to trust in the decision making of individuals. If you want to see their vision for America, just have a conversation with Michael Bloomberg or Eric Holder — if you can stand it, that is.

They think government should pick your soft drink, your snack food, your vices, your home security system, your health insurance, your electricity source, and your children’s school. They think we’re too dumb to order pizza and too dangerous to protect our land.

They take perhaps the most pessimistic view of Americans we have ever seen from national leaders in our history. If you listen to them, you get the feeling they’re surprised we can tie our own shoelaces without government intervention They probably think that’s why we wear cowboy boots. 

Tags: Bobby Jindal , Eric Holder , Mike Bloomberg , NRA Convention 2014

The Taxpayer Bailout of GM, Helping Them Sell Unsafe Cars



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President Obama, December 2013:

In exchange for rescuing and retooling GM and Chrysler with taxpayer dollars, we demanded responsibility and results.

The news he alluded to, but did not directly mention that day:

The taxpayer loss on the GM bailout is $10.5 billion. The Treasury department said it recovered $39 billion from selling its GM stake, and had put $49.5 billion of taxpayer money directly into the GM bailout.

The news today:

It was nearly five years ago that any doubts were laid to rest among engineers at General Motors about a dangerous and faulty ignition switch. At a meeting on May 15, 2009, they learned that data in the black boxes of Chevrolet Cobalts confirmed a potentially fatal defect existed in hundreds of thousands of cars.

But in the months and years that followed, as a trove of internal documents and studies mounted, G.M. told the families of accident victims and other customers that it did not have enough evidence of any defect in their cars, interviews, letters and legal documents show. Last month, G.M. recalled 1.6 million Cobalts and other small cars, saying that if the switch was bumped or weighed down it could shut off the engine’s power and disable air bags.

The Times reports:

Since the engineers’ meeting in May 2009, at least 23 fatal crashes have involved the recalled models, resulting in 26 deaths.

In November 2008, automaker executives came to Washington and “pleaded for emergency government aid.” At the end of May 2009 — after that meeting about the potentially fatal defect in the Cobalts! — the Obama administration finalized its aid package and terms to GM, committing “another $30 billion on top of the $19.4 billion it has already given GM to cover its losses and fund its operations, in exchange for a 60% equity stake in the new company after restructuring, as well as $8.8 billion in debt and preferred stock.”

Great news, taxpayers. You spent $10.5 billion to save a company that sold defective, unsafe cars, and lied about it for years.

Note this wrinkle:

When questioned last week at a news conference whether government ownership had any impact on the regulatory response to the ignition switch problems, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. responded: “I’m not sure that is necessarily true.”

Time to update that Obama 2012 slogan. “GM is alive, and 29 Cobalt drivers and passengers are dead.”

ABOVE: President Obama tapes his weekly address from a GM plant in
Detroit, October 14, 2011; there’s no word on whether the car behind him is one
of those with life-threatening defects that GM knew about but did not disclose.

Tags: GM , Bailouts , Barack Obama , Eric Holder

Talk About a Settled Issue



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I admit to being puzzled by congressional Republicans’ strategic choices over the past few weeks. The notion that adding a defund-Obamacare provision to the continuing resolution or debt-ceiling measure would actually result in defunding Obamacare sounded too much like the strategy the “underpants gnomes” adopted in that classic episode of South Park. The kids discover that gnomes are stealing people’s underpants. The gnomes finally cop to the crime, describing it as the first of three steps to economic success. “Step 1: Collect underpants. Step 2: ???. Step 3: Profit!” Too many conservatives of my acquaintance seemed thrilled by the opportunity to stage a glorious defeat to prove their heroism. I always thought it was better to win quietly than lose loudly. Others had given into desperation — prematurely, in my view. Throwing a Hail Mary pass with seconds to go in a game you’re losing may be wise. Throwing a Hail Mary in the middle of the second quarter is foolish.

All that having been said, President Obama and congressional Democrats are defending their position poorly. For example, how many times in the past 24 hours have you heard them or their allies make the argument that Obamacare is a settled issue because 1) it was enacted by duly elected federal lawmakers and signed by a duly elected president, 2) the U.S. Supreme Court said it passed constitutional muster, and 3) it was championed by a reelected Obama and opposed by a defeated Romney? That’s not how republics work — no issue is ever truly settled — but more important it’s not how these same folks behave on other issues.

Take voter ID. Many states, including my own North Carolina, have seen voter ID became law through the actions of duly elected state lawmakers and governors. The U.S. Supreme Court has recently ruled that voter ID passes constitutional muster. State officials enacting voter ID have subsequently been reelected. But in the eyes of the Obama administration, voter ID is about as far away from “settled” as an issue can be. Attorney General Eric Holder has just announced a lawsuit challenging North Carolina’s new election law, including the photo-ID requirement. The Justice Department continues to pursue or threaten similar litigation in other states.

A fair comparison? I think so. But there is an important difference between Obamacare and voter ID. The former is unpopular. The latter is supported by the vast majority of voters, including most Democrats, independents, and minorities. So conservatives are fighting an uphill battle to defeat an unpopular law. Liberals are fighting an uphill battle (I suspect) to defeat a popular law.

Tags: Obamacare , Voter ID , Eric Holder

Three Lies to the Public That Must Have Consequences



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From the first Morning Jolt of the week . . . A National Security Agency leak tells me many of you are already subscribers, but some of you aren’t. If you’re not already a subscriber, click on the link or look for the box in the upper right hand of your screen.

Three Administration Lies to the Public That Must Have a Consequence

President Obama, speaking to the American public, Friday afternoon:

If people can’t trust not only the executive branch but also don’t trust Congress, and don’t trust federal judges, to make sure that we’re abiding by the Constitution with due process and rule of law, then we’re going to have some problems here.

In the specific issue that Obama is discussing, i.e., oversight of the National Security Agency’s vast data collection on American citizens, there is the problem in that no one within that system of oversight has the role or duty to speak on behalf of those being monitored, or about to be monitored. The executive branch knows what it wants — it wants to monitor people. The Congress may or may not want to advocate the argument, “Hey, that person hasn’t done anything wrong, you have no good reason to collect that information on them” — judging from what we now know, no one argued that perspective very strongly. And the oversight of the judicial branch is pretty weak when we know the Department of Justice goes “judge shopping” when their initial requests are rejected. If the executive branch can keep going to new judges until they get the decision they want, there isn’t really much of a check on their power, now is there?

Regarding that alleged congressional oversight, Senator Ron Wyden, Oregon Democrat, is coming awfully close to accusing the president of lying:

“Since government officials have repeatedly told the public and Congress that Patriot Act authorities are simply analogous to a grand jury subpoena, and that intelligence agencies do not collect information or dossiers on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans, I think the executive branch has an obligation to explain whether or not these statements are actually true,” Wyden said.

Wyden’s suspicion is driven by a lie he appears to have been told under oath, one we’ll look at in a moment. But more generally, we have seen quite a few folks in the executive branch abuse the public’s trust and then see no real consequences for it.

LIE ONE: White House Press Secretary Jay Carney’s November 28 explanation about changes made to talking points about the Benghazi attack:

The White House and the State Department have made clear that the single adjustment that was made to those talking points by either of those two — of these two institutions were changing the word “consulate” to “diplomatic facility,” because “consulate” was inaccurate. Those talking points originated from the intelligence community. They reflect the IC’s best assessments of what they thought had happened.

You can see the twelve rounds of revisions here, well more than a single adjustment, and mostly in response to State Department objections.

After it became clear that Carney had put forth false information, he dug in deeper, insisting that the twelve rounds of revisions were merely “stylistic changes.” Carney paid for his lie with two days of hostile questions from the White House Press Corps . . . and then the storm seemed to have blown over.

LIE TWO: Attorney General Eric Holder, testifying under oath before the House Judiciary Committee, May 15:

Well, I would say this. With regard to the potential prosecution of the press for the disclosure of material, that is not something that I’ve ever been involved in, heard of or would think would be a wise policy.

Michael Isikoff later reported the precise opposite: The Justice Department pledged Friday to to review its policies relating to the seizure of information from journalists after acknowledging that a controversial search warrant for a Fox News reporter’s private emails was approved “at the highest levels” of the Justice Department, including “discussions” with Attorney General Eric Holder.

There is a claim from the usual suspects — Media Matters — that Holder is in the clear because he was asked about prosecutions for publishing classified information, not solicitation for classified information; they assert that the two actions are totally different. A pretty thin reed for a perjury defense, and one that utterly fails the standard of the chief law-enforcement officer of the United States informing the public of his department’s operations.

For us to believe that, it would mean that during the entire Justice Department discussion of prosecuting Fox News’s James Rosen for soliciting the information, no one suggested or mentioned prosecuting Rosen for publishing it. Remember, Holder didn’t just say he didn’t agree with that idea; he said he never heard of the idea.

LIE THREE: Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, testifying under oath before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on March 12, responding to questions from Wyden, Democrat of Oregon:

Wyden: “Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?”

Clapper: “No, sir.”

Wyden: “It does not?”

Clapper: “Not wittingly. There are cases where they could, inadvertently perhaps, collect—but not wittingly.”

The subsequent explanation from Clapper: “What I said was, the NSA does not voyeuristically pore through U.S. citizens’ e-mails. I stand by that,” Clapper told National Journal in a telephone interview.

But that’s not what he was asked, nor was it even close to what he was asked. In fact, the light from what he was asked takes several years to reach a question about voyeurism.

If your excuse is that you are incapable of discerning what “any type of data at all” means, you are no longer allowed to have a job title that has the word “intelligence” in it.

This weekend, the Guardian reported, “During a 30-day period in March 2013, the documents indicate, the NSA collected nearly 3 billion pieces of intelligence from within the United States.”

Two of these three were under oath before Congress; the other was to the press, with the cameras rolling, on a topic of high public interest and great controversy.

If Obama were to ask for the resignations of Carney, Holder, and Clapper tomorrow, all of us who don’t trust him would have to at least acknowledge that he’s trying to set a better standard for consequences of lying to the public. But all of us know that he will do nothing of the sort.

Instead, he will continue to give speeches where he expresses incredulity that the public wouldn’t trust him and his administration.

“Trust us. We say this because our review of your personal e-mail indicates that you don’t.”

 

Tags: Barack Obama , NSA , Benghazi , Eric Holder , James Clapper

Reporters Should Just CC Eric Holder on
All E-Mails From Now On



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The last Morning Jolt of the week features a look at Lois Lerner, and the cowboy hero that President Obama seeks to emulate, and . . . 

Eric Holder: Sure, I’m Cool With Snooping Around in James Rosen’s E-Mails

Remember how Attorney General Eric Holder recused himself from the decision to seize the phone records of more than 20 office, home and cell phone lines of Associated Press reporters? (Holder never wrote down his formal recusal, of course, so we have to take his word for it.) The recusal was because the Attorney General was conceivably a suspect of leaking the classified information and was at one point interviewed by the FBI.

His recusal also seemed to suggest he realized the Justice Department looking through reporters’ phone records represented a dramatic expansion of government investigation into how reporters do their work, and that maybe some political survival instinct wanted to keep that controversial move a degree separated from him.

Thursday we learned that Holder doesn’t really have any objection to the government looking around in a reporter’s phone records or e-mails.

Michael Isikoff: “Attorney General Eric Holder signed off on a controversial search warrant that identified Fox News reporter James Rosen as a ‘possible co-conspirator’ in violations of the Espionage Act and authorized seizure of his private emails, a law enforcement official told NBC News on Thursday.”

Lest you think this controversy just represents privileged members of the national news media thinking of themselves as special, a quick refresher: Of course it is often wrong to leak classified information. (I say “often” because our government considers a lot of information “classified,” and one way government officials can keep embarrassing information away from a public that has a right to know is to declare it classified.) But even going back to the Pentagon Papers, the crime was committed by the leaker, not by the reporter who received the information and published it. Judges have put injunctions on publishing information, but there has never been an implication that a reporter commits a crime by publishing classified information.

Until now, with Rosen. And while the DOJ hasn’t pursued charges yet, by naming James Rosen a co-conspirator in their affidavit, Eric Holder and company are leaving the door open to charge Rosen with conspiracy, a federal crime with a penalty of up to five years in jail and $250,000 fine. This is why it’s a big deal — even if Rosen never faces charges, the door has now been opened for some future prosecutor to charge reporters with a fairly serious crime, just for reporting information to the public. This is why most journalists you know are freaking out.

Kristina Ribali: “Will Holder punish Holder with administrative leave?”

John Stanton, the DC bureau chief of BuzzFeed: “So Eric Holder, who signed off on spying on media outfits, is going to head up the Obama administration’s review of its media spying rules.”

Eric Holder, second from left, at a ceremony earlier this year formally burying the traditional legal understanding of the First Amendment.

Tags: Eric Holder , Department of Justice , James Rosen , Fox News

‘The Loop’ Never Extends All the Way to the Oval Office



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The “worst tornado in the history of the world” hit the Oklahoma City suburbs yesterday. You know what to do: American Red Cross. Salvation Army. Recovers.org. Mercury One is organizing two truckloads from the Dallas area.

The Tuesday edition of the Morning Jolt begins . . . 

Hey, I’m Just the President, Nobody Ever Tells Me Anything Around Here.

Let me get this straight: To hear Jay Carney tell it, the president is pleased that no one in his senior staff told him that the IRS was targeting his political enemies?

Senior White House officials, including Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, learned last month about a review by the Treasury Department’s inspector general into whether the Internal Revenue Service targeted conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status, but they did not inform President Obama, the White House said Monday.

The acknowledgement is the White House’s latest disclosure in a piecemeal, sometimes confusing release of details concerning the extent to which White House officials knew of the IG’s findings that IRS officials engaged in the “inappropriate” targeting of conservative non-profits for heightened scrutiny. Previously, the White House said counsel Kathryn Ruemmler did not learn about the final results of the investigation until the week of April 22nd, and had not disclosed that McDonough and other aides had also been told about the investigation. On Monday, White House Spokesman Jay Carney said a member of Ruemmler’s staff learned of the probe the week of April 16; Ruemmler learned of the investigation on April 24th; and after that point she informed the chief of staff and other aides about the probe’s findings.

The White House has said President Obama did not learn of the IRS’s actions until he saw news reports on the matter earlier this month.

Carney’s spiel included the explanation, “No one in this building intervened in an ongoing independent investigation or did anything that could be seen as intervening.” But a desire to not interfere with the investigation doesn’t quite explain why no one thought that the president ought to be informed about a major scandal of the IRS targeting his political enemies.

Doesn’t it bother Obama to learn about these things from the press? Doesn’t he chew anybody out?

Gabe Malor: “I want to know the names of the folks who get to decide what Obama doesn’t need to know. What are their credentials? Who elected them?”

We’ve seen the “senior administrative staff never mentions major, controversial problem to man in charge of the organization until it blows up on the front pages” playbook before. This is precisely the explanation that we were handed for “Fast and Furious” and how Eric Holder never learned about what was going on until Customs and Border Protection Agent Brian Terry was murdered with a weapon from that program.

Time and again, information and warnings about the operation’s enormous risks flow from Arizona to Washington . . . and suddenly, mysteriously, stop just short of Holder.

The inspector general’s report concludes that they can find no evidence Holder knew about Fast and Furious until well after Terry’s death, but . . . well, the circumstances of Holder being so out of the loop, so in the dark about a major operation certainly appear unusual, perhaps to the point of straining credulity. The report states:

“We found it troubling that a case of this magnitude and that affected Mexico so significantly was not directly briefed to the Attorney General. We would usually expect such information to come to the Attorney General through the Office of the Deputy Attorney General . . . [Holder] was not told in December 2010 about the connection between the firearms found at the scene of the shooting and Operation Fast and Furious. Both Acting Deputy Attorney General Grindler and Counsel to the Attorney General and Deputy Chief of Staff Wilkinson were aware of this significant and troubling information by December 17, 2010, but did not believe the information was sufficiently important to alert the Attorney General about it or to make any further inquiry regarding this development.”

Not “sufficiently important”? Baffling. Maddening. Some might even say, “implausible” . . . 

The report continues:

“We found it troubling that a case of this magnitude and that affected Mexico so significantly was not directly briefed to the Attorney General. We would usually expect such information to come to the Attorney General through the Office of the Deputy Attorney General . . . [Holder] was not told in December 2010 about the connection between the firearms found at the scene of the shooting and Operation Fast and Furious. Both Acting Deputy Attorney General Grindler and Counsel to the Attorney General and Deputy Chief of Staff Wilkinson were aware of this significant and troubling information by December 17, 2010, but did not believe the information was sufficiently important to alert the Attorney General about it or to make any further inquiry regarding this development.”

Perhaps “Preserve the boss’s plausible deniability” is stitched on the throw pillows on the Oval Office couches.

Obama didn’t know the IRS was targeting conservatives until he read it in the papers. He didn’t know about “Fast and Furious” until he read it in the papers, too. He has “complete confidence” in Holder, and didn’t know about the decision to collect the phone records of reporters.  He didn’t know about the investigation into CIA director David Petraeus’s affair.  He told Letterman during the election he didn’t know what the national debt was. He didn’t know about the AIG bonuses in the TARP legislation. He said he didn’t know how bad the economic crisis was when he took office.

That “empty chair” metaphor from the Republican Convention was so out of line, huh?

I just picture a phone ringing here, going unanswered…

UPDATE: Sunshine State Sarah Rumpf looks at the rules of the District of Columbia Bar and concludes the White House Counsel’s office likely violated ethics by not promptly informing the president of the IRS abuses.

Tags: Barack Obama , IRS Abuses , Eric Holder , Fast and Furious

Who Still Has Faith in Eric Holder?



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From the Thursday edition of the Morning Jolt:

Holder Melts Down

Can anyone, with a straight face, argue that Eric Holder should remain as Attorney General, and the country can have faith in his abilities and judgment in the coming months and years? I mean, apparently he doesn’t even write things down anymore:

Lawmakers skewered Attorney General Eric Holder yesterday over the Justice Department’s sweeping effort to snoop on Associated Press reporters and editors — while the embattled Cabinet secretary kicked responsibility down the chain of command.

Holder was in the hot seat for hours of testimony before the House Judiciary Committee just days after the scandal broke, telling lawmakers that his deputy, James Cole, was the one who authorized the sweeping subpoena that caused an uproar in both parties.

“It’s an ongoing matter and an ongoing matter in which I know nothing,” Holder said.

Holder says he recused himself from the matter completely — but in an embarrassing admission, he said he hasn’t found a written record of that action.

Dana Milbank rips Holder to shreds:

As the nation’s top law enforcement official, Eric Holder is privy to all kinds of sensitive information. But he seems to be proud of how little he knows.

Why didn’t his Justice Department inform the Associated Press, as the law requires, before pawing through reporters’ phone records?

“I do not know,” the attorney general told the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday afternoon, “why that was or was not done. I simply don’t have a factual basis to answer that question.”

Why didn’t the DOJ seek the AP’s cooperation, as the law also requires, before issuing subpoenas?

“I don’t know what happened there,” Holder replied. “I was recused from the case.”

Why, asked the committee’s chairman, Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), was the whole matter handled in a manner that appears “contrary to the law and standard procedure”?

“I don’t have a factual basis to answer the questions that you have asked, because I was recused,” the attorney general said.

On and on Holder went: “I don’t know. I don’t know. .  .  . I would not want to reveal what I know. .  .  . I don’t know why that didn’t happen. .  .  . I know nothing, so I’m not in a position really to answer.”

What do you know that Eric Holder doesn’t know? A lot, apparently.

Tags: Eric Holder , Department of Justice

The Mask Is Ripped Off of ‘Hope and Change’



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Today’s Morning Jolt is jam-packed, as it is a special ALL-SCANDAL edition!

SCANDAL ONE: Dear Media: Obama’s Indignant Benghazi Response Revealed a Lot Yesterday!

Dear friends in the media.

Come on.

I mean, come on.

You and I know what’s going with the Benghazi thing. Let me share something that I first put into play during the “was Anthony Weiner’s Twitter account hacked” debate, but that comes from watching the Lewinsky scandal, the where-did –Mark-Sanford-go scandal, the why-is-David-Wu-dressed-in-a-tiger-suit scandal, and a wide variety of wrongdoing committed by politicians:

When there is evidence of scandalous or bizarre behavior on the part of a political figure, and no reasonable explanation is revealed within 24 to 48 hours, then the truth is probably as bad as everyone suspects.

Nobody withholds exculpatory information. Nobody who’s been accused of something wrong waits for “just the right moment” to unveil information that proves the charge baseless. Political figures never choose to deliberately let themselves twist in the wind. It’s not the instinctive psychological reaction to being falsely accused, it’s not what any public communications professional would recommend, and to use one of our president’s favorite justifications, it’s just common sense.

So . . .

You and I both know, in our guts, and based upon everything we’ve seen in Washington since we started our careers, that there’s no innocent explanation for the Obama administration’s actions before, during, and after the Benghazi attacks.

If there were good reasons for why the requests for additional security from staff in Libya didn’t generate any serious response in the halls of the State Department, we would have heard it by now. If there were evidence that everyone within the State Department, military, and White House were doing everything they could to rescue our guys on that awful night, we would have heard about it long ago. If there was a good reason for the “talking points” to get edited down from a false premise (a demonstration) but at least serious information (previous CIA warnings about terrorist activity) to false pabulum, we would have heard it by now; the latest lame excuse is that the fourteen edits merely reflect “bureaucratic infighting between the CIA and State.” And if there was a good reason for State Department lawyers to call up Deputy Chief of Mission Gregory Hicks and tell him not to allow the RSO, the acting Deputy Chief of Mission, and himself to be interviewed by Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, we would have heard that by now, too.

Come on, guys. What do we think is going on when Hillary Clinton’s chief of staff calls up the acting ambassador, and harangues him about the lack of a State Department lawyer for his conversation with Congress? Does anybody really believe it’s just her checking up to make sure protocol was followed?

You can see what’s going on here. You may not want to see it, or believe it, but you can see it. The federal government made awful, unforgivable wrong decisions about the security for its people in Benghazi. They compounded the error by failing to put together even the beginning of a rescue mission during the seven-hour assault. Perhaps those responsible for making the call had a fear of  a “Black Hawk Down” scenario, in which the rescuers find themselves needing rescue, but whatever the reasoning, the net effect was the same: our people were under fire, fighting for their lives, and nobody was coming to help. The decisions made that night make a mockery of the unofficial, but widespread motto of our armed forces: “Nobody gets left behind.”

The decisions made up until this point may or may not have involved the president or then-Secretary of State Clinton, but they sure as hell were involved in the decisions that came afterwards.  The morning after the attack, the administration tried to offer the excuse that it was a completely unforeseeable event, randomly triggered by some YouTube video. And they sought to intimidate and punish anyone who would contradict their storyline.

My friends in media, you know what is going on when you see President Obama say this:

The whole issue of talking points, frankly, throughout this process has been a sideshow.  What we have been very clear about throughout was that immediately after this event happened we were not clear who exactly had carried it out, how it had occurred, what the motivations were.

You know what this is: Stop looking at what I did, and start looking at the people accusing me of wrongdoing. We’ve seen this tactic before: “The vast right-wing conspiracy.”

We know the president’s claim that there was confusion is false, because everyone on the ground was clearly telling their bosses that this was a terror attack from the beginning. No one in Benghazi or Libya was saying this was a protest as a result of a YouTube video. Where did that idea come from? Who within the administration decided to take accurate information and start inserting inaccurate information?

The president continues:

 It happened at the same time as we had seen attacks on U.S. embassies in Cairo as a consequence of this film.  And nobody understood exactly what was taking place during the course of those first few days. 

No, the folks on the ground understood what was taking place. They just said so before Congress and a lot of television cameras. Why is the president confused about this?

Obama continues:

And the fact that this keeps on getting churned out, frankly, has a lot to do with political motivations.  We’ve had folks who have challenged Hillary Clinton’s integrity, Susan Rice’s integrity, Mike Mullen and Tom Pickering’s integrity.  It’s a given that mine gets challenged by these same folks.  They’ve used it for fundraising. 

The motivations and/fundraising of those who disagree with you are irrelevant to whether or not you’re telling the truth, Mr. President.

SCANDAL TWO: Hey, Why Does the IRS Have to Tell the Truth to Congress, Anyway?

NBC News points out that the IRS appears to have directly lied to Congress when asked about the targeting of conservative groups:

Lois Lerner, head of the IRS division on tax-exempt organizations, learned in June 2011 that agents had targeted groups with names including “Tea Party” and “Patriots,” according to the draft obtained by NBC News.

She “instructed that the criteria immediately be revised,” according to the draft. Ten months later, in March 2012, the IRS commissioner at the time, Douglas Shulman, testified to Congress that the IRS was not targeting tax-exempt groups based on their politics.

The IRS said over the weekend that senior executives were not aware of the targeting, but it remains unclear who knew what and when. [Then IRS Commissioner] Shulman, who left the agency last fall, has not spoken publicly about the scandal and did not answer a request for comment Monday from NBC News.

Members of Congress had sent letters to Shulman as early as June 2011 asking specifically about targeting of conservative groups, according to a House Ways and Means Committee summary obtained by NBC News.

The IRS responded at least six times but made no mention of targeting conservatives, according to the committee’s summary.

“Oh, you mean that effort to conservative groups, we thought you meant a different one.”

Remember the explanation that this was just some runaway low-level employees in one office? Yeah, that was bull: “Internal Revenue Service officials in Washington and at least two other offices were involved in the targeting of conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status, making clear the effort reached well beyond the branch in Cincinnati that was initially blamed, according to documents obtained by The Washington Post.”

SCANDAL THREE: Of Course Eric Holder Is Allowed to Secretly Eavesdrop on Journalists!

You know a scandal is bad when I can point you to the Huffington Post’s summary, because it can’t collect any more outrage than I can:

Journalists reacted with shock and outrage at the news that the Justice Department had secretly obtained months of phone records of Associated Press journalists.

The AP broke the news on Monday about what it called an “unprecedented intrusion” into its operation. It said that the DOJ had obtained detailed phone records from over 20 different lines, potentially monitoring hundreds of different journalists without notifying the organization. The wire service’s president, Gary Pruitt, wrote a blistering letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, accusing the DOJ of violating the AP’s constitutional rights.

Reporters and commentators outside the AP professed themselves to be equally angered. “The Nixon comparisons write themselves,” BuzzFeed’s Ben Smith tweeted. Margaret Sullivan, the public editor for the New York Times, called the story “disturbing.” Washington Post editor Martin Baron called it “shocking.” CNN’s John King described it as “very chilling.”

Speaking to the Washington Post’s Erik Wemple, a lawyer for the AP called the DOJ’s actions “outrageous,” saying they were “a dagger to the heart of AP’s newsgathering activity.”

BuzzFeed’s Kate Nocera was perhaps more pithy, writing simply, “what in the f–k.”

You “Hope and Change” true believers were a bunch of chumps.

As this illustration over at Ace of Spades reveals . . .

Tags: Barack Obama , Eric Holder , Benghazi , IRS , Scandals

Eric Holder’s Implausibly Uncommunicative Staff



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The Thursday edition of the Morning Jolt features a discussion of the power of messages against the power of events, the latest news on the investigation in the Benghazi attack, and this important point to keep in mind when you hear that the Department of Justice’s inspector general’s report on “Fast and Furious” exonerated Attorney General Eric Holder:

The Slow and Credulous Inspector General’s Report on Fast and Furious

Nineteen months in the making, the Department of Justice’s Inspector General finally dropped the nearly 500-page report on Fast and Furious.

Over at the Guardian, I wrote:

The initial headlines screamed the IG report exonerated Holder. That’s one interpretation, although the portrait the report paints of Holder’s management is deeply disturbing. Time and again, information and warnings about the operation’s enormous risks flow from Arizona to Washington . . . and suddenly, mysteriously stop just short of Holder.

The Inspector General’s report concludes that they can find no evidence Holder knew about Fast & Furious until well after Terry’s death, but . . . well, the circumstances of Holder being so out of the loop, so in the dark about a major operation certainly appears unusual — perhaps to the point of straining credulity.

The report states:

“We found it troubling that a case of this magnitude and that affected Mexico so significantly was not directly briefed to the Attorney General. We would usually expect such information to come to the Attorney General through the Office of the Deputy Attorney General . . . [Holder] was not told in December 2010 about the connection between the firearms found at the scene of the shooting and Operation Fast and Furious. Both Acting Deputy Attorney General Grindler and Counsel to the Attorney General and Deputy Chief of Staff Wilkinson were aware of this significant and troubling information by December 17, 2010, but did not believe the information was sufficiently important to alert the Attorney General about it or to make any further inquiry regarding this development.”

Not “sufficiently important”? Baffling. Maddening. Some might even say, ‘implausible.’

Time and again, everyone under Holder seems to do everything possible to make sure he isn’t informed about an operation that, in the words of the IG report, failed “to adequately consider the risk to public safety in the United States and Mexico.” In fact, information about the program went all the way to Holder’s office . . . but somehow the memos, e-mails, and other communication never got to the man himself. It’s as if he wasn’t there.

If you want to interpret that as a subtle “empty chair” allusion, feel free.

“As we describe below, we identified information regarding Operation Fast and Furious that reached the Office of the Attorney General in 2010 but not Attorney General Holder himself.”

Well.

If you’re wondering if this is covered by some sort of obscure procedure or rules, it isn’t: “[Holder] should have been informed by no later than December 17, 2010, that two firearms recovered at the Terry murder scene were linked to an ATF firearms trafficking investigation. . . . We found that although [Holder’s then deputy-chief-of-staff Monty] Wilkinson forwarded to Holder during the afternoon of December 15 three emails from the U.S. Attorney’s Office providing further details about the shooting and law enforcement efforts to find and arrest the suspects, he did not notify the Attorney General of the revelation that two weapons found at the murder scene were linked to a suspect in an ATF firearms trafficking investigation.

A suspicious mind could look at this strange pattern of underling after deputy after staffer not mentioning critical information, and information getting all the way to Holder’s office but not seen by the man himself, and conclude Holder’s staffers were keeping him in the dark to preserve his “plausible deniability.” Or perhaps someone just wasn’t honest with the inspector general.

We now know that the best that can be said about Holder is that he was oblivious to a major, exceptionally dangerous operation going on within his organization. The most generous interpretation is that he staffed his office with professionals with epically egregious judgment in deciding what the nation’s top law-enforcement officer needs to know.

For what it’s worth, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee chairman Darrell Issa wants to see a lot of heads roll, and argues that Holder doesn’t have any excuses, either:

“The Inspector General’s report confirms findings by Congress’ investigation of a near total disregard for public safety in Operation Fast and Furious. Contrary to the denials of the Attorney General and his political defenders in Congress, the investigation found that information in wiretap applications approved by senior Justice Department officials in Washington did contain red flags showing reckless tactics and faults Attorney General Eric Holder’s inner circle for their conduct.

“Former Deputy Attorney General Gary Grindler, Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer who heads the Criminal Division, Deputy Assistant Attorney General Jason Weinstein, Arizona U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke, and Holder’s own Deputy Chief of Staff Monty Wilkinson are all singled out for criticism in the report. It’s time for President Obama to step in and provide accountability for officials at both the Department of Justice and ATF who failed to do their jobs. Attorney General Holder has clearly known about these unacceptable failures yet has failed to take appropriate action for over a year and a half.”

Tags: Eric Holder , Fast and Furious

Scathing Fast & Furious IG Report Imminent?



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While doing today’s Jolt, I came across this intriguing article from Fox News from a week ago — a news development lost in the (deserved) interest in the embassy-attack stories:

Dozens of senior-level U.S. government officials turned a blind eye to public safety as they pursued an ill-conceived and poorly managed investigation into gun trafficking in Mexico, according to a long-awaited inspector general’s report on Operation Fast and Furious.

Portions of the Justice Department IG report, which has not been made public, were obtained exclusively by Fox News Channel.

The report and accompanying accounts cite a failure in leadership and a lack of accountability and oversight up and down the chain of command at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the Justice Department itself and other offices. It says many senior executives knew the U.S. was helping traffic guns to Mexico that killed people but did nothing to stop it.

“We found no evidence in Operation Fast and Furious that the ATF or the (U.S. attorney’s office) attempted at any point during the investigation to balance the risks to the public safety against the long-term benefits of identifying trafficking networks and participants,” the draft report says.

This is the inspector general report that was cited, again and again, as to why Department of Justice officials hesitated to answer questions — “there’s an ongoing investigation.” This Inspector General’s investigation began in February 2011, so we’re looking at a roughly 19-month effort.

Back in December 2011, the line was that the Department of Justice was never notified of what was going on: “Justice officials said they were never told about the Fast and Furious tactics and cite ATF internal emails as evidence.”

The Fox article suggest that the report will blame three managers in the ATF — but that two of the named managers insist that they kept high-level Justice officials in the loop, and were only encouraged:

Both men recall a detailed briefing Voth delivered to senior ATF and DOJ staff in Washington on March 5, 2010. In a Power Point presentation, attended by at least two deputy attorneys general, Voth explained how the operation was run and how almost two-dozen largely unemployed men bought 1,026 assault weapons with $650,000 in just over four months, then smuggled the guns to Mexico while under surveillance.

“Following the briefing . . . Mr. Voth received accolades from his superiors. No one in ATF leadership or at Main Justice raised any concerns with Mr. Voth about the direction of the investigation. If anything, they were encouraging him,” Voth attorney Joshua Levy said.

If nothing else, it shouldn’t be too hard to verify whether or not that briefing took place, and who attended.

It appears the defense from Attorney General Eric Holder will remain, “I had no idea any of these people who report to me were doing this, or that any of this was going on.”

Tags: Eric Holder , Fast and Furious

Voters to Quinnipiac: Obamacare Is a Tax Hike



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This morning, Quinnipiac gives the GOP and the Right modestly good news on just about all fronts:

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is a tax hike, American voters say 55 – 36 percent, but in a mixed message, voters agree 48 – 45 percent with the U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding the law, while they say 49 – 43 percent that the U.S. Congress should repeal it, according to a Quinnipiac University national poll released today.

A total of 55 percent of American voters say a presidential candidate’s position on health care is “extremely important” or “very important” to their vote in November, the independent Quinnipiac University poll finds. While 59 percent say the Supreme Court decision will not affect their vote, 27 percent say it will make them less likely to vote for President Barack Obama, while 12 percent say more likely. Independent voters say less likely 27 – 9 percent.

American voters split 48 – 47 percent on whether people should be required to have health insurance. Opposed are Republicans 76 – 19 percent and independent voters 51 – 43 percent, while Democrats support the mandate 79 – 16 percent.

The wording in Quinnipiac’s description of the “Fast & Furious” is a little confusing, but the gist is clear: among those who heard about the House holding Eric Holder in contempt, Americans think that politics played a big role . . . but they still agree with it.

A total of about two-thirds of American voters know something about the vote in the U.S. House of Representatives to hold U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress. Of that group, half were asked if they support the contempt vote, with support at 44 – 29 percent, with 27 percent undecided. Among the other half, asked if it was a legitimate attempt to get information or if it was politically motivated, 42 percent say the vote was political while 36 percent say it was legitimate, with 21 percent undecided.

“We asked different questions of two groups of voters. The answers were different but not mutually exclusive. More voters in one group believe the contempt of Congress charges against Attorney General Eric Holder are politically motivated. More voters in the other group support the contempt citation,” said Brown.

Independents support holding Holder in contempt 42 percent to 30 percent. Intriguingly, 39 percent of Democrats have “no opinion” on the Holder contempt citation. I can’t help but suspect that such a high number in that demographic represents a response of “deep down I think the guy I usually support did something wrong, but I can’t bring myself to admit it to a pollster.”

Moving on to the recent decisions on illegal immigration . . .

American voters approve 55 – 39 percent of President Obama’s new policy to end deportation of some young illegal immigrants. While 51 percent say the decision will not affect their vote, 30 percent say it makes them less likely to vote for Obama while 18 percent say more likely.

By 61 – 34 percent, voters want an Arizona-type law in their state, requiring police to check the immigration status of someone they have already stopped or arrested if they suspect he or she is in the country illegally.

Finally, Quinnipiac finds “14 percent say America’s economy is ‘excellent’ or ‘good’ while 86 percent say ‘not so good’ or ‘poor.’”

Note this is a sample of registered voters — and a nice large sample, “2,722 registered voters with a margin of error of +/- 1.9 percentage points.” The only quibble is that the survey was taken from July 1 to July 8 — and over the course of a week, public opinions can change . . .

Tags: Eric Holder , Obamacare , Polling

69 Percent Want Obama to Come Clean on
‘Fast & Furious’



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Wow. Among adults, not registered voters or likely voters, 53 percent approve of the U.S. House of Representatives holding “Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress for refusing to turn over documents related to a program called Operation Fast and Furious.” Only 33 percent disapprove.

The CNN survey also found that only 34 percent thought House Republicans had “real ethical concerns,” while 61 percent thought House Republicans did it to “gain political advantage.”

(What political advantage is that? Just how different is the level of “advantage” the House GOP has today compared to two weeks ago?)

Naturally, the CNN.com headline is, “CNN Poll: Was politics behind Holder contempt vote?

The pollsters also asked, “In the congressional investigation of Operation Fast and Furious, in your view, should President Obama and his aides continue to invoke executive privilege to protect the White House decision making process, or should they drop the claim of executive privilege and answer all questions being investigated?”

Only 28 percent said “invoke executive privilege,” and 69 percent said “answer all questions.”

Tags: Barack Obama , Eric Holder , Fast and Furious

Digging Into U.S. Attorneys’ Political Donations



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Over on the home page, I take a look at Attorney General Eric Holder’s decision to assign the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, Ronald C. Machen Jr., and the U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland, Rod J. Rosenstein, to lead criminal investigations into recent instances of possible unauthorized disclosures of classified information to the New York Times.

Conservative blogger Duane Lester noticed that Machen is an Obama donor and in fact an early one:

Machen donated $4,350 to Obama’s campaigns. He gave $250 to Obama’s U.S. Senate campaign in 2003, a year before Obama, then an Illinois state senator, emerged on the nation’s political radar, according to campaign finance records.

So how much does Machen stand out as an Obama donor? Are political donations from U.S. Attorneys common, or rare?

Sorting through the campaign-finance records since 2006 reveals that the donor/non-donor divide splits down the middle, although not in partisan distribution. Of the 93 U.S. Attorneys,

forty-seven of these attorneys have not donated any money to any candidates for office in the past six years, according to records available from the Center for Responsive Politics. Collectively, the remaining 46 have donated $235,651 to President Obama, the DNC, and Democratic candidates since January 1, 2007. Not one has donated to any Republican candidate. Of the 46 who donated, 36 donated to President Obama’s presidential campaign in 2008, or his reelection campaign this year, or both, for a total of $77,782.

Tags: Barack Obama , Eric Holder

Explaining ‘Fast & Furious’ to the Founding Fathers



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The final Morning Jolt of the week is full of reaction to the Obamacare decision, but it also includes this examination of how we got where we are in the investigation of Fast & Furious:

Oh, and Eric Holder’s in Contempt of Congress

Oh, and one other thought in the vein of the usefulness, and even necessity of ‘fear of the electorate’ . . .

Suppose you obtain a time machine, and look for some advice at the Constitutional Convention . . .

You: Hey, Founding Fathers, how do we make sure the nation’s law enforcement agencies don’t get involved, in, say, shipping massive amounts of guns — er, think of big muskets — to gangsters across the border? Suppose it was really terrible, like, one of those muskets being used to kill an American keeping a watchful eye on the border.

Founding Fathers: My goodness, you worry about such epic foolishness and folly in the future leadership of this nation! Well, under the Judiciary Act, the government shall have an Attorney General, and he could investigate and get to the bottom of it and hold the perpetrators accountable.

You: Okay, yeah, that’s not going to work. See, picture what probably seems like a crazy scenario to you guys, but imagine that this future Attorney General either doesn’t care or he was in on it or he just wants the issue to go away.

Founding Fathers: What a dishonorable toad! Surely if he picked such a reprehensible course of action, the president would act upon his authority to fire him and appoint a replacement who would ensure accountability.

You: Yeah, about that . . . let’s go out on a limb and say we end up with a president who has no interest in doing that.

Founding Fathers: Surely, there would be some sort of internal review of that agency, some inspector general who could get to the bottom of it.

You: Let’s assume that the Department of Justice’s Inspector General promises to investigate and then doesn’t say anything for sixteen months and we’re starting to suspect that when the whole thing comes out after the election, it’ll be a whitewash.

Founding Fathers: Congress would have oversight authority. Surely, they could get to the bottom of it and hold all the perpetrators accountable.

You: Yeah, well, that’s turning out pretty hit-and-miss, and quite dependent upon whistle-blowers.

Founding Fathers: How could that be? Congress will have subpoena power! They’ll be able to make the Attorney General turn over all the relevant documents!

You: Yeah, about that . . . the Attorney General’s not cooperating.

Founding Fathers: Well, he had better cooperate, unless he wants to he found in contempt of Congress!

You: Already done. Not really any sign he cares.

Founding Fathers: Son, how the heck did you end up being governed by this crew? What, did you elect the Barbary Pirates?

Tags: Eric Holder , Fast and Furious

The Obama of 2008 Would Have Cared About ‘Fast & Furious’



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I am back, and so is the Morning Jolt:

Fast & Furious: One More Example of How Obama Is Exactly the Guy His Critics Said He Was

The Barack Obama sold to us in 2008 would have cared about how something like Fast and Furious happened on his watch. The fact that Obama invoked executive privilege to protect his guys at the Department of Justice is just one more big red flashing-neon sign that when he said things like, “Make no mistake, we need to end an era in Washington where accountability’s been absent, oversight has been overlooked,” it was . . . well, just words. (That was on October 1, 2008.)

I’m one of those guys who thought that during the whole replaced-U.S.-Attorneys brouhaha in late 2006, the president ought to at least give a reason for replacing a U.S. Attorney. The attorney, Congress, and the public don’t have to like the reason, but considering the power and responsibility for those offices, the president ought to at least explain why a head federal prosecutor is being replaced, a process that presumably temporarily scrambles cases, investigations, and prosecutions.

Anyway, if you think Bush using his Constitutional authority to replace U.S. Attorneys is a giant scandal, but shrug your shoulders at the federal government sending guns to Mexico, where drug cartels use them to kill a U.S. Border Patrol agent, then you are a hopeless partisan hack who is literally willing to overlook murder to advance your political agenda.

This weekend, our Michael Walsh took to the pages of the New York Post to lay out what we know about Fast & Furious, and what we need to know. A key point:

By embracing his doomed attorney general, Obama has now forfeited plausible deniability and tied Fast and Furious directly to the White House, a decision he’s likely to regret — especially since he continues to assert that nobody in the West Wing were aware of the operation. Indeed, back in March 2011, Obama claimed he’d first learned of Fast and Furious “on the news” and said that Holder knew nothing.

Yeah, right. A document dump in early December last year proved conclusively that Holder’s chain-of-command subordinates knew all about it. Indeed, that knowledge now lies at the center of the contempt citation and Obama’s executive privilege claim — and of the mystery: how high does this go?

Holder got slapped with a contempt charge by the House Oversight Committee owing to his refusal to turn over a tranche of subpoenaed documents relating to the now-notorious letter of Feb. 4, 2011, in which Justice categorically denied any knowledge of, or involvement with, Fast and Furious. This despite hair-raising whistleblower stories from brave ATF agents describing their feelings of helplessness as batches of weapons were transferred from the US to Mexico right under their noses — and being ordered not to interfere.

But that letter, by assistant attorney general Ronald Weich — who conveniently announced his sudden retirement earlier this month — was “withdrawn” last December. “Facts have come to light during the course of this investigation that indicate the Feb. 4 letter contains inaccuracies,” wrote a Justice bigwig, wiping the egg from his face.

Obama’s executive privilege declaration covers the documents that directly pertain to the aftermath of the Feb. 4 letter, as Justice internally debated — according to Holder — “how to respond to congressional and related media inquiries into that operation.”

How to deal with potential perjury or obstruction charges is more like it.

Meanwhile, on the Sunday shows . . .

A letter sent to President Barack Obama will outline why his invocation of executive privilege over documents sought by lawmakers investigating the botched Fast and Furious gun-running sting is either “overbroad, or simply wrong,” House Oversight Committee chairman Darrell Issa said Sunday.

The letter will be sent later Sunday or Monday, Issa, R-California, told ABC’s “This Week.” The oversight committee voted Wednesday to refer a potential contempt citation against Attorney General Eric Holder to the full House, which is set to vote this week.

“We’re past that part of the discovery, relative to contempt,” Issa said. “We know that there’s a lot of wrong things and we want to fix it. What we’re talking about now, when we get lied to, when the American people get lied to, there can’t be oversight when there’s lying.

“The Supreme Court held pretty clearly there cannot be executive privilege over a criminal cover-up,” he said. ” . . . Lying to Congress is a crime. We have every right to see documents to say, ‘Did you know?’ ‘What did you know?’ including even the president.”

However, he added, “If we get documents that do show, cast some doubt, or allow us to understand this, we’ll at least delay contempt and continue the process. We only broke off negotiations when we got a flat refusal when we asked to get information needed for our investigation.”

If the documents say what Holder claims they say, “we might dismiss contempt,” he said.

Gee, if Holder is telling the truth, that would seem to be a strong motivation to disclose the withheld documents, huh? Send the document to Issa and the committee, it checks out, the contempt charge goes away . . . Is the administration really going to tell us that Holder is taking the contempt charge out of principle? That he is sitting on evidence that verifies what he says, enhances his credibility, and defends the good name of him, his staff and the administration, and that he won’t reveal it out of dedication to the legally iffy notion of “deliberative process privilege”?

Or is it just that Holder is lying? Again?

Tags: Barack Obama , Eric Holder , Fast and Furious

I Trust My Donor Will Get to the Bottom of These Leak Allegations



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Award-winning blogger Duane Lester asks a fascinating question: How can Attorney General Eric Holder appoint an Obama donor — who has donated $4,350 to Obama’s campaigns over the years! — to investigate whether the White House leaked classified information?

Tags: Barack Obama , Eric Holder

Too Fast and Too Furious?



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House Oversight and Government Reform Committee chairman Darrell Issa issued a memorandum and draft contempt report on Thursday making the case for holding Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress. The report details the Department of Justice’s stonewalling of the Fast and Furious “gunwalking” program investigation. Under the program, ATF officials actively allowed as many as 2,000 illegally purchased guns to flow into the hands of U.S.-based operatives of a Mexican drug cartel. In December of 2010, suspected illegal aliens killed U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry in a firefight. Investigators found two AK-variant guns which they linked to the DOJ’s “gunwalking” program. This tragedy sparked the Oversight Committee’s current investigation.

Everyone agrees, as Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano put it, that the program involved “lots of mistakes” that “should never be repeated.” This makes the investigation, a joint operation with Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking member Chuck Grassley, important. The DOJ apparently doesn’t think so. Although the Oversight Committee received around 7,000 pages of evidence from the DOJ, the DOJ’s Inspector General actually collected around 71,000 more pages of evidence. Chairman Issa believes these evasions impede the development of necessary legislative reforms in light of Fast and Furious, and prevent the delivery of justice to those affected by the program, including Agent Terry’s family.

The report’s findings are very disturbing, and the investigation deserves praise for bringing these details to light.

The DOJ was slow to admitting fault with the program, too many times doing so only when confronted. After the death of the agent, the DOJ initially denied any wrongdoing. It took almost 10 months for the DOJ to rescind that determination, admitting that Fast and Furious was “fundamentally flawed” (memo, pp. 1–2). The report explains that whistleblowers provided most of the information, which was then used to confront those who were involved in Fast and Furious (memo, p. 7). Instead of helping investigators, “the Department has issued false denials, given answers intended to misdirect investigators, sought to intimidate witnesses, unlawfully withheld subpoenaed documents, and waited to be confronted with indisputable evidence before acknowledging uncomfortable facts” (memo, p. 9).

The DOJ, despite claiming that privilege protects certain documents, likely did not make a good-faith effort to help the investigation. It stretches credibility to believe that almost 90 percent of the documents disclosed to the inspector general were truly privileged and could not be protected with commonly employed means of securing sensitive information. The DOJ has not even filled out a privilege log detailing why they are withholding documents, which would at least provide a starting point to evaluate their claims (memo, p. 9).

Chairman Issa believes that part of this stonewalling may be to protect DOJ employees, including those who retaliated against whistleblowers of the program (memo, p. 14). He explains that “Senator Chuck Grassley asked Attorney General Holder to reveal the identity of a Justice Department official who had been caught participating in the leaking of documents to smear an ATF whistleblower. Instead of naming the official at the hearing, Holder decided to protect his identity and refused to answer the question” (memo, p. 14).

The DOJ’s response to Fast and Furious is just one of many reasons to question Eric Holder’s judgment as our nation’s top law-enforcement official. Hopefully, General Holder will cooperate with the Oversight Committee, and help Chairman Issa and Senator Grassley bring those responsible for the Fast and Furious debacle to justice. 

Tags: Eric Holder , Fast and Furious

Defending the Indefensible



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During Attorney General Eric Holder’s confirmation hearings, General Holder decried the politicization of the Department of Justice, declaring, “I will work to restore the credibility of a department badly shaken by allegations of improper political interference . . . Under my stewardship, the Department of Justice will serve justice, not the fleeting interests of any political party.” This echoed a similar theme that then-senator Barack Obama sounded on the 2008 campaign trail; he would not overly politicize the Department of Justice, and “was a constitutional law professor, which means that unlike the current president I actually respect the Constitution.”

The Supreme Court’s oral arguments last week in Arizona v. United States highlight one more instance of how much the Obama administration has failed at keeping these promises. As Byron York asked on Twitter last week, is DOJ’s Solicitor General “Donald Verrilli bad at his job or just burdened by having to defend the indefensible?” Evidence suggests the latter.

Arizona revolves around the constitutionality of the controversial Arizona immigration statute, that mandates local-police enforcement of federal immigration laws. The administration argued that the law violated the Supremacy Clause, which prohibits state laws that conflict with federal laws. 

As John Hinderaker pointed out on Wednesday, even Justice Sotomayor was openly skeptical of the DOJ’s argument, telling Solicitor General Verrilli to put aside an argument that was “not selling well,” and “try to come up with something else.” Later on, Justice Kennedy wondered if Verrilli was arguing that the “government has a legitimate interest in not enforcing its laws.” Justice Scalia followed up Verrilli’s largely incoherent response by asking if “we have to enforce our laws in a manner that will please Mexico.” 

The DOJ’s politicization is becoming a noticeable pattern. Their greatest hits include:

  • Defending the government’s ability to ban books. In the Citizens United oral arguments, a DOJ lawyer claimed that the national government can ban books published by corporations if they contain political advocacy. The Court was so disturbed that they scheduled a second oral argument, where the DOJ “clarified” their position.
  • Outright hostility toward religion. In Hosanna-Tabor, the Supreme Court unanimously rejected the DOJ’s argument that, for employment-discrimination cases, “the court’s analysis should be essentially the same whether the employer accused of discrimination was a labor union or a church.” As my colleague Carrie Severino explained, the DOJ’s position would implicate religious organizations, such as the Catholic Church, that “fire or refuse to hire ministers for ‘illegal’ reasons, such as sex or ethnicity . . .” Even the liberal justices understood how extreme this position was; during oral arguments, Justice Scalia characterized the DOJ’s position as “extraordinary,” and Justice Kagan added, “I, too, find that amazing.”
  • Rejecting judicial review. As I previously mentioned, in Sackett v. EPA, in another unanimous rebuttal, the Supreme Court rejected the DOJ’s argument that property owners have no right to judicial review of the EPA’s prohibition of certain land uses.
  • Flimsy legal argumentation in pursuit of political ends. As I’ve noted before, the DOJ pressured the City of St. Paul to drop a challenge to the “disparate impact” standard in Fair Housing Act litigation, for fear that the Court would accept their argument. Elsewhere, the DOJ filed such a weak case against a pro-life sidewalk counselor that the court fined the DOJ $120,000 for filing the suit in the first place. The judge was so incensed that he wondered if the DOJ was complicit in the abortion clinic’s use of the law to intimidate the pro-lifer. For the DOJ to waste our taxpayer dollars on a frivolous (and offensive) lawsuit is a disgrace.

Some DOJ defeats come with the job — they have to defend statutes to the best of their ability, which can be difficult. This is different. Instead, the Eric Holder DOJ is getting walloped for much stronger and farther-out-of-the-“mainstream” legal positions that are often times not necessary to fulfill their legal duty, or even competently advance their agenda within the contours of acceptable policy discretion. Hopefully President Obama and the Eric Holder DOJ will stop trying to defend the indefensible, and focus instead on competently enforcing our nation’s laws. 

Tags: Eric Holder

A Fast, Furious Campaign Web Video from Ted Cruz



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The Senate campaign of Ted Cruz in Texas has teamed up with RedState’s Ben Howe to put together a quick two-minute video explaining the Fast & Furious scandal, how it ties to Attorney General Eric Holder, and how “this is an administration that thinks it is above the law.”

The Department of Justice’s inspector general has been conducting an internal investigation . . . for 416 days now.

Tags: Barack Obama , Eric Holder , Ted Cruz

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