In recent days, Attorney General Eric Holder gave strong indications that he would provide additional documents related to the Justice Department’s handling of Operation Fast & Furious. The focus of a congressional probe for nearly 18 months, Fast & Furious is the gun-walking program that allowed thousands of guns to end up in the hands of Mexican drug cartel members, resulting in the deaths of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry and hundreds of Mexican citizens.
But a Tuesday meeting with congressional investigators resulted in nothing but posturing between Holder and Republicans. Wednesday morning, President Obama invoked executive privilege at Holder’s request. That means the documents won’t be turned over to Congress any time soon. South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy is a member of the House Oversight and Judiciary Committees – the two committees that have spent the most time investigating this issue. Gowdy is outraged and said the Justice Department deliberately stalled for many months in turning subpoenaed documents over to the oversight committee.
He also cried foul over Obama’s latest move, saying Obama can’t use “executive privilege” to protect information that doesn’t directly involve him. Gowdy said that either means Obama is directly involved in this scandal after insisting he wasn’t or that Obama is taking extraordinary measures to protect communications that should not fall under executive privilege. But whether Obama acted lawfully or not, Gowdy noted that there’s not much Congress can do to get the critical documents from the Justice Department.
Gowdy discusses Wednesday’s committee vote holding the attorney general in contempt of Congress, explaining the vote is not specifically about Fast & Furious but about Holder’s disregard for the role of Congress and the rule of law. The congressman also rejects Democratic complaints that this probe and today’s vote are about damaging the administration, distracting from the focus on job creation or about racial animosity against Obama and Holder.