The Department of Justice released letters regarding the executive privilege assertion over documents related to internal deliberations on Fast and Furious, the flawed gun-trafficking investigation.
In Attorney General Eric Holder’s June 19 letter to President Barack Obama outlining his legal analysis for the assertion of privilege, Holder said the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is seeking documents related to the department’s internal discussions about how to respond to the Fast and Furious congressional and media inquiries, as well as documents related to ongoing law enforcement actions.
The first category of documents “were not created in the course of the conduct of Fast and Furious,” Holder wrote. “Instead, they were created after the investigative tactics at issue in that operation had termintaed and in the course of the Department’s deliberative process concerning how to respond to congressional and related media inquiries into that operation.”
Releasing records of internal deliberations would “inhibit the candor of such Executive Branch deliberations in the future” and “would raise substantial separation of powers concerns,” Holder wrote, echoing previous arguments made by the George W. Bush and Bill Clinton administrations over confrontations with Congress.
Another letter, sent today from Deputy Attorney General James Cole to House Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), informs Issa of the president’s assertion of privilege.
In a committee meeting today to vote on a contempt of Congress citation against Holder, Issa said he has not been notified by the White House of the assertion and said a letter from the deputy attorney general wasn’t good enough. Issa said he would like to see a log of privileged documents from the White House.
“It would be my intention to cull that out of contempt so as to send a clean contempt resolution to the floor,” Issa said. “We can’t do that based on a letter” from the deputy attorney general.