House Speaker John Boehner indicated on Sunday that he would take the Administration to court over documents requested in the Oversight Committee investigation into the Fast and Furious scandal.
The House of Representatives voted on Thursday to hold U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress for refusing to hand over documents relating to a congressional inquiry into the failed gun-trafficking investigation. But the Justice Department has declined to prosecute Holder because the president invoked executive privilege to shield the documents.
“That’s why we’re also going to file in district court a civil suit over the issue of executive privilege,” Boehner said, adding that Republicans would file the suit sometime in the next few weeks [...]
On “Fox News Sunday,” White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew called the Republicans’ pursuit of additional documents a “fishing expedition.” Obama administration officials have testified at 11 hearings on the issue and provided thousands of documents.
I’m on the record saying that I don’t think much of the Oversight Committee’s investigation. And we have a decent amount of information that calls into question the rendering of Fast and Furious as a gun-walking scandal. It appears more like a case of federal prosecutors being overcautious than a definitive strategy to track guns carried across the border by straw purchasers. What’s more, the program started under the Bush Administration and ended under the Obama Administration.
Nevertheless, the proper way to handle this is to challenge the executive privilege invocation in court. Clearly we need more clarity – and limits – to how an Administration can use executive privilege. We know they can privilege both direct communications and deliberative communications among a government agency. But when executive privilege gets used as a mere method to deny documents to another branch of government engaged in oversight, that becomes a problem. In general, there’s way too much secrecy in government, and that’s been especially true of this Administration, which has been anything but the most transparent ever. We need rules on the classification of documents, because the executive branch has shown themselves willing at every opportunity to expand the definition.
I think Fast and Furious is a stupid case. But sometimes it takes stupid cases.