WASHINGTON - The Chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is demanding to know whether the President of the United States or his senior advisors had involvement in or knowledge of ATF’s flawed Fast and Furious Case and if they did, when they became involved.
In a letter to the President addressed June 25, Rep. Darrell Issa challenged the President Obama's use of executive privilege last week, which prevented the release of subpoenaed documents to the Committee as part of their investigation into the case.
“Courts have consistently held that the assertion of the constitutionally-based executive privilege – the only privilege that ever can justify the withholding of documents from a congressional committee by the Executive Branch – is only applicable with respect to documents and communications that implicate the confidentiality of the President’s decision-making process, defined as those documents and communications to and from the President and his most senior advisors,” Issa wrote.
Issa questioned the Obama's involvement in the case.
“Please clarify the question raised by your assertion of executive privilege: To what extent were you or your most senior advisors involved in Operation Fast and Furious and the fallout from it, including the false February 4, 2011 letter provided by the Attorney General to the Committee?” Issa asked.
The president invoked executive privilege prior to a scheduled Committee vote last week, recommending Attorney General Eric Holder be held in contempt of Congress for failing to deliver the requested documents.
The Republican-led committee voted along party lines to make the recommendation.
A vote is scheduled this week in the House of Representatives.
The White House, meanwhile, responded to ABC15's request for response providing a list of previous assertions of the executive privilege by previous administrations including President George W. Bush, President Clinton, and President Reagan.
"President Obama has gone longer without asserting the privilege in a Congressional dispute than any President in the last three decades," according to a fact sheet released by White House spokesman Eric Schultz.
“The Congressman’s analysis has as much merit as his absurd contention that Operation Fast and Furious was created in order to promote gun control. Our position is consistent with Executive Branch legal precedent for the past three decades spanning Administrations of both parties, and dating back to President Reagan’s Department of Justice. The Courts have routinely considered deliberative process privilege claims and affirmed the right of the executive branch to invoke the privilege even when White House documents are not involved,” said Schultz.
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