Barack Obama’s transition from president to king continues with his invoking of executive privilege to block Congress from documents related to Eric Holder’s involvement in “Fast and Furious,” the Justice Department program that put U.S. guns in the hands of Mexican drug runners.
For the second time in a week, President Obama has shown he not only doesn’t care what Congress thinks, but he has the power and the inclination to just roll over the Legislative Branch and anyone in it, particularly the GOP members.
Executive privilege is something to which presidents occasionally resort, but given the nature of the Fast and Furious probe, and following hot on the heels of Obama’s decree of amnesty for millions of illegal immigrants, this is not the normal legal functioning of the executive office so much as the second in a one-two punch to Congress’ midsection.
By keeping subpoenaed documents related to Fast and Furious out of the hands of the congressional panel led by California Congressman Darrell Issa, Obama is hiding information about a federal operation that didn’t just go awry, but that resulted in the death of a Border Patrol agent.
What that answer ultimately is and whether it would result in any penalties for Holder are things that should be determined through the legal process Issa’s oversight committee began. By refusing to release the documents in an effort to block a committee vote to hold the attorney general in contempt of Congress, Obama is showing his own contempt for the people’s representatives.
Whatever Obama’s hiding apparently is more important to him than the life of a federal agent.
Could the documents reveal his own involvement in the botched arms-tracking scheme?
Based on the rules set out by the Supreme Court, it’s now up to Issa to show that the documents “essential to the justice of the case.”
Historically, most presidents follow up an executive privilege claim by voluntarily revealing some of the requested documents to fend off a confrontation with Congress. Based on Obama’s pattern, that doesn’t seem likely to happen.
Obama likes to compare himself to other presidents, proclaiming that he is in the Top 4. But the most apt presidential comparison today is to Richard Nixon.
As the Watergate story broke, President Nixon also invoked executive privilege to try to block release of the recordings that came to be called the Watergate Tapes.
He too had reason to exert executive privilege. The Watergate Tapes sealed the coffin on his presidency, revealing as they did his involvement in planning the break-in at the Watergate Hotel.
Nixon resigned for the good of the country so that America would not have to be dragged through the spectacle of impeachment hearings.
To this day, Watergate — and Nixon’s abuse of executive privilege — is a low point in presidential history.
There’s a crucial point that must be remembered, however: Nobody died in Watergate.
Posted on June 21, 2012 by Tad Cronn