The Hill reports that President Obama has asserted executive privilege over documents sought by a House panel ahead of a scheduled panel vote where Attorney General Eric Holder is expected to be held in contempt of Congress:
The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee was set to vote on Wednesday to hold Holder in contempt of Congress after a last-ditch effort to reach a deal over documents related to Operation Fast and Furious failed.
A White House aide told The Hill in an email that there is precedent for such executive privilege, saying “President George W. Bush asserted executive privilege 6 times, Clinton 14 times – both of whom protected the same category of documents we’re protecting today.”
In an evening update, The Hill is now reporting that a vote Wednesday to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress will move forward after “a last-ditch effort to reach a deal over documents related to Operation Fast and Furious appeared to fail.”
Townhall.com reports that Issa said that there is still a chance that Holder would submit the requested documents tonight but that a contempt vote is still scheduled for Wednesday and Issa has released an official statement.
“I had hoped that after this evening’s meeting I would be able to tell you that the Department had delivered documents that would justify the postponement of tomorrow’s vote on contempt. The Department told the Committee on Thursday that it had documents it could produce that would answer our questions. Today, the Attorney General informed us that the Department would not be producing those documents. The only offer they made involved us ending our investigation.
“While I still hope the Department will reconsider its decision so tomorrow’s vote can be postponed, after this meeting I cannot say that I am optimistic. At this point, we simply do not have the documents we have repeatedly said we need to justify the postponement of a contempt vote in committee.”
The Hill reports that “a disappointed” Darrell Issa plans to move forward with a vote Wednesday to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress, unless Holder delivers documents demanded by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee later on Tuesday night. Until he receives them, Issa would plan to move forward with the contempt vote, according to The Hill.
The documents Issa wants are related to the Fast and Furious gun-tracking operation that his panel has been investigating.
Rep. Elijah Cummings (Md.), the ranking Democrat on Issa’s committee, said he believed Issa’s mind was made up about the contempt vote before the meeting.
“It appears that the chairman made up his mind even before we stepped into the room,” he said following the meeting, which lasted roughly 30 minutes.
Issa’s has been waging a months-long battle against the Justice Department in an attempt to get documents and information about how much lead agency officials knew about the controversial “gun-walking” used in Operation Fast and Furious.
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The author is a retired U.S. Air Force officer and a writer.