Barack Obama’s invocation of executive privilege to keep subpoenaed documents from congressional committees investigating Fast and Furious came as rather a shock to many DC observers. It wasn’t that pundits were surprised the “most transparent administration in history” had chosen to OFFICIALLY cover up the Fast and Furious affair. After all, no one actually believed Obama’s phony openness claims in the first place.
What really confounded Administration friends and foes alike was the fact that Obama invoked the privilege in the face of such an extensive body of disapproving legal precedent. “Where there is reason to believe…documents sought may shed light on government misconduct, ‘the privilege is routinely denied…’” wrote the DC District Court of Appeals in the Clinton era US v Espy case. How could a former instructor of law make such an obvious and fundamental legal “error?”
It’s a safe bet that Eric Holder and Barack Obama worked out the executive privilege idea well in advance of the Attorney General’s scheduled meeting with Darrell Issa. It was, after all, a worst case, fallback scheme the pair undoubtedly agreed must be implemented should Oversight Committee chair Issa refuse Holder’s last-minute attempt to buffalo the Congressman and Republican leaders into accepting the AG’s testimony in lieu of subpoenaed documents.
In fact, the privilege claim was only invoked after a year of stonewalling had failed, threatening to result in an embarrassing contempt charge that even the 90% of national media types who had buried the Fast and Furious story would eventually be forced to report. Yet, although political fallout resulting from the contempt vote and the illegally advanced privilege claim would be swift, it would be NOTHING compared to the nuclear blast resulting from a release of documents that proved Obama and Holder had been in on the implementation and ensuing cover-up of the Fast and Furious debacle from the very beginning. Documents yielding such a revelation obviously had to be denied the Committee and the American public at all costs, as a loss in November might be accompanied by a stretch in Leavenworth.
Though Barack Obama knew a political firestorm would accompany his claim of executive privilege, it was a decision he was forced to make.
Yet, incredibly, Obama might have a way out. First of all, rumor has it that neither Mitt Romney nor House Republican leaders want what they consider the distraction of Fast and Furious to divert attention from their campaign on the disastrous Obama economy. So there remains a very real possibility that the Regime can make a deal with John Boehner in which a few carefully selected documents might be turned over in exchange for an end to the contempt vote and further subpoenas. Everything would go away in favor of concentrating on the campaign, making both Obama and DC Republicans very happy.
Moreover, there is no way a lawsuit over the privilege claim could make its way through the legal system before the election. So if Obama wins in November, it will be back to obfuscate and dissemble. And if he loses, Republicans will almost certainly drop the investigation lest they be accused of persecuting the first minority president and attorney general for the racist purpose of schooling blacks on the dangers inherent in aiming too high… getting too uppity!
Obama had to short-circuit the Fast and Furious probe until after the election and take the attending political heat. It was in part a play for time that has provided him the opportunity of making a deal with those Republicans more interested in political expedience than in doing what’s right. Remember, John Boehner put off the contempt vote of the full House until this week, evidently in the hope a deal could be worked out in the interim.
If there is no contempt vote by Friday, we’ll know Obama’s privilege claim worked beautifully. We’ll also know that conservatives have once again been sold out by the Republican brass.
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