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House Republicans filed a civil action in federal court on Monday against Attorney General Eric Holder. They hope the lawsuit will compel Holder to hand over documents the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee subpoenaed him for in October of last year regarding the botched Operation Fast and Furious.
The Oversight committee voted to find Holder in contempt of Congress back in June after his office refused to release the full content of these documents pertaining to the ATF gunrunning operation. The information in question could help shed some light on how ATF officials and the Department of Justice lost track of over 2,000 weapons that were allowed to cross into Mexico.
In the eleventh hour, President Barack Obama asserted executive privilege over the documents, which seemed odd to some because both Eric Holder and the White House claimed the President had no previous knowledge of the documents and had never seen them. It wouldn’t be the first time a president has used executive privilege in a congressional investigation and it certainly won’t be the last time either.
House Republicans moved forward with the contempt vote knowing full well that the DOJ would sit on it. Finding the Attorney General in contempt of Congress gave Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) and his Republican colleagues on the Oversight committee the option of taking the matter to federal court.
In a statement from the House committee on the lawsuit against Holder, Rep. Issa said:
“Waiting nearly eight months after the subpoena had been issued to assert a meritless claim of privilege, the President’s decision was a calculated political maneuver designed to stop the release of documents until after November’s elections.”
He went on.
“After promising an unprecedented level of transparency, the President is attempting to expand the reach of executive privilege to obstruct the truth about the reckless conduct that contributed to the death of a Border Patrol Agent and countless Mexican citizens. The family of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, whistleblowers who faced retaliation for exposing the Justice Department’s reckless tactics, and the public have a right to know the full extent of what occurred.”
Everyone knew the contempt vote against Eric Holder was going to be the beginning of a drawn out legal showdown between Congressional Republicans and the Obama administration. The White House and Democrats on Capitol Hill have accused the GOP of using the “Fast and Furious” investigation as an excuse to go on a “witch hunt” during an election year. Republican leaders have, in turn, accused the White House of withholding information that could be damaging to a president seeking reelection.
Both sides are aware of the implications the ‘Fast and Furious’ scandal could have on November’s general election. The whole thing has become political theater, in which both sides have their parts to play. Meanwhile, the family of a slain U.S. Border Agent wants closure and the American people deserve answers.
The curtain raises and “Act Two” begins…