'Executive privilege' claim opens up new avenue of probing in Fast and Furious
Republicans repeatedly suggest that the White House had tipped its hand
President Obama's use of executive privilege over Operation Fast and Furious documents has failed to delay contempt proceedings against Attorney General Eric Holder. The incident is now raising a whole new line of constitutional questions and challenges about the power of the presidency.
'He's either part of it or he's not,' Rep. Trey Gowdy, a feisty Republican lawmaker from South Carolina says. 'If (Obama's) part of it, then we've had a series of witnesses that have misled this committee. And if he's not part of it, then he's got no business asserting executive privilege.'
One question that sprang to mind was whether the documents contained information so damaging that the president was willing to risk the bad PR by moving to lock them down.
GOP lawmakers are also questioning whether Obama's assertion was legitimate, later voting in committee that it was not appropriate in this case. Republicans have repeatedly suggested that the Obama administration had tipped its hand, by acknowledging being involved in Fast and Furious discussions by asserting privilege over the documents in question.
"He's either part of it or he's not," Rep. Trey Gowdy, a feisty Republican lawmaker from South Carolina says. "If (Obama's) part of it, then we've had a series of witnesses that have misled this committee. And if he's not part of it, then he's got no business asserting executive privilege."
House Speaker John Boehner's spokesman also said the move "implies" the White House was involved in the operation itself or the cover-up.
Asking for a "more precise description" of the executive privilege claim, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, sent a letter to Obama asking whether Obama was extending the claim to documents pertaining to "communications with you," or to Justice Department communications separate from the White House.
The White House and Justice Department have both downplayed the potential implications of the executive privilege claim.
Justice Department officials say that the assertion does not have to pertain to communications involving the president or White House staff. Any "deliberative communications" among officials in the Executive Branch, they said, could be covered.
Lawmakers argued that just because Obama is locking down the documents doesn't mean he had anything to do with the Fast and Furious discussions.
© 2012, Catholic Online. Distributed by NEWS CONSORTIUM.
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Keywords: Fast and Furious, executive privilege, Republicans, Rep. Trey Gowdy
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