FLASH: Obama claims executive privilege over "Fast & Furious" documents; Congress to move ahead with Holder contempt vote

"You know, there's been a tendency on the part of this administration to -- to try to hide behind executive privilege every time there's something a little shaky that's taking place. And I think, you know, the [Bush] administration would be best served by coming clean on this. ...I think the American people deserve to know what was going on there." - Barack Obama, 2007

----> UPDATE 4:20 pm EDST - House committee holds Holder in contempt; Full House to vote

by Chad D. Baus

Fox News is reporting that President Obama has granted an 11th-hour request by Attorney General Eric Holder to exert executive privilege over Fast and Furious documents, a last-minute maneuver that appears unlikely to head off a contempt vote against Holder by Republicans in the House.

From the article:

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is expected to forge ahead Wednesday morning with its meeting on the contempt resolution anyway.

If the vote proceeds, Republicans have more than enough votes on committee to pass the resolution. However, Holder would not be considered held in contempt of Congress unless and until the full House approves the measure.

According to the article, after Holder made the request to Obama via letter on Tuesday, Deputy Attorney General James Cole wrote to Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., on Wednesday informing him that the president has granted the request.

Obama's decision pertains to documents from February 2011 and afterward examining how Justice officials learned about the Fast and Furious probe.

Holder, in his letter to Obama, said those documents pertain to the "deliberative process" on how to respond to congressional and media inquiries.

Wednesday's developments follow a flurry of activity Tuesday, as Holder tried to negotiate a way to avert the contempt proceedings. Issa had earlier indicated a willingness to postpone the vote after Holder indicated a willingness to make compromises and supply some documents in response to House Republicans' subpoena.

But Issa told reporters after a roughly 20-minute meeting with Holder Tuesday that the attorney general instead briefed them on the documents in lieu of delivering them.

Issa told Fox News that Holder didn't provide "anything in writing," and said the family of murdered Border Patrol agent Brian Terry wants the documents as much as he does.

"We want the documents. Brian Terry's family would like the documents that are responsive to how in fact their son was gunned down with weapons that came from lawful dealers but at the ... behest of the Justice Department," Issa told Fox News.

Weapons from the Fast and Furious anti-gunrunning operation were found at Terry's murder scene.

Rep. Darrell Issa told Fox News Wednesday morning that he is pressing ahead with a committee vote to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress.

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee was informed of the president's decision in a letter Wednesday morning, shortly before the contempt vote was scheduled.

"This untimely assertion by the Justice Department falls short of any reason to delay today's proceedings," Issa said.

The failed Fast and Furious operation attempted selling thousands of guns to arms dealers along the U.S.-Mexico border to trace them to leaders of drug cartels. However, many of them showed up in crime scenes.

Congressional investigators have been trying to determine if and when high-level Justice officials knew about problems with the operation.

Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said in a statement today that the claim of executive privilege "raises monumental questions":

"How can the President assert executive privilege if there was no White House involvement? How can the President exert executive privilege over documents he's supposedly never seen? Is something very big being hidden to go to this extreme? The contempt citation is an important procedural mechanism in our system of checks and balances. The questions from Congress go to determining what happened in a disastrous government program for accountability and so that it's never repeated again."

According to Fox News, the contempt vote in the oversight committee will likely pass considering Republicans outnumber Democrats 22 to 16. Sources have reportedly told Fox that GOP House leadership has given Issa the green light to proceed how he sees fit, sources told Fox News, which suggests the vote will reach the House floor.

Chad D. Baus is the Buckeye Firearms Association Vice Chairman.

----> UPDATE 4:20 pm EDST - House committee holds Holder in contempt; Full House to vote

Additional Information:
Fast and Furious -- Holder's day of reckoning has finally arrived

Holder retracts claim Bush team knew about Fast and Furious

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