Is President Obama Above the Law? Seriously?
“Either you or your most senior advisers were involved in managing Operation Fast & Furious and the fallout from it…or, you are asserting a Presidential power that you know to be unjustified solely for the purpose of further obstructing a congressional investigation,” Issa wrote. “To date, the White House has steadfastly maintained that it has not had any role in advising the Department with respect to the congressional investigation. The surprising assertion of executive privilege raised the question of whether that is still the case.”
The White House dismissed Issa’s letter.
The chairman of the House oversight committee investigating White House involvement in the botched “gun-walking” program that led to the 2010 death of U.S. Border Patrol agent accused President Obama on Monday of downplaying his involvement in the program or intentionally obstructing the Congress’ inquiry.
Rep. Darrel Issa’s letter to Obama questioned the legal basis of the White House move to withhold subpoenaed documents from the Government Reform and Oversight Committee under protections afforded Obama by executive privilege. The Justice Department denied Issa’s committee the subpoenaed documents last week, prompting the GOP-led committee to vote along party lines to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress.
The full House is scheduled to consider the contempt citation this week. The White House contends it’s legally entitled to withhold documents related to internal deliberations on policy and advisory discussions among Obama’s senior advisers. It was the first time Obama, who pledged a new era of government transparency, has exerted executive privilege.
Issa said the assertion of executive privilege, which occurred after 16-months of negotiations between his committee and Justice officials over documents related to the gun-walking program called Fast and Furious, raised two troubling questions.
Issa’s committee has subpoenaed documents it believes relevant to Justice and White House deliberations that led to a false Justice Department submission—in Holder’s name—in February 2011 that Fast and Furious was not a gun walking operation. The committee had been told by whistle-blowers that Fast and Furious allowed large quantities of AK-47 firearms and variants to “walk” into Mexico. Two of those firearms were discovered at the scene where Border Patrol agent Brian Terry was killed near Rio Rico, Az., on Dec. 14, 2010.