Ladies and gentlemen, very, very good news. One of the most effective groups of lawyers on our side that I know about, and that is Judicial Watch. They have been suing the US government since September of 2012, more than two years now, to get the ‘Fast and Furious’ records from the Department of Justice. If you can still remember back that far, Eric Holder was caught lying about ‘Fast and Furious’. He said he did not know then and he does not know now. He refused to come up with documents. The House Oversight committee tried to hold him in contempt of Congress and of course, that went nowhere. Judicial Watch sued and said we would like to see those documents to, because now the president of the United States, to keep these documents out of Congress’s hands, the president of the United States has claimed executive privilege. That these documents cannot be turned over to the press or to the public or to Congress.
Just to remind you, executive privilege was what was not allowed to Richard Nixon or Ronald Reagan or for that matter Bill Clinton. Executive privilege is a very narrow idea that if there is a communication between the president and his executive officer, his political staff, his chief Cabinet officers etc. that is in the process of decision-making, something that for national security reasons or other reasons are to be kept a secret for now. It is an exception to the freedom of information act- executive privilege. So Obama says no, there are 15,662 documents that you want. All of them are covered by executive privilege, I’m not releasing a single one. Therefore, Judicial Watch goes to court and says we are working to get these, because there is no way executive privilege covers this situation because particularly you Mr. President and the attorney general Mr. Holder have denied that you talk to each other about ‘Fast and Furious.’ If you didn’t talk to each other then executive privilege doesn’t apply because it’s not a communication from the executive.
So last night ( 10/23/2014) Judicial Watch did not get the 15,662 documents they wanted but they did get what’s called a von index based on a earlier lawsuit. A von index is an index of the documents, so each index must: 1) identify each record withheld; 2) state the statutory exemption claimed on each and every document and 3) explain how disclosures would damage the interest protected by the claimed exemption.
The documents disclosed (the index itself is 1307 pages long) numerous e-mails between the president and the attorney general about ‘Fast and Furious.’ We don’t have the documents yet, we don’t have any of the contents yet, but now we know they were lying to us about talking to each other about ‘Fast and Furious.’ Executive privilege has been asserted over those. Executive privilege has also been asserted over 20 E-mail communications between Eric Holder and his wife Sharon Malone- what has that got to do with anything?
Numerous entries detail DOJ communications including Eric Holder’s back and forth between deputies ATF, and everybody else on ‘Fast and Furious.’ Communications from the DOJ, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and the US Ambassador to Mexico about ‘Fast and Furious’ are also listed.
What is weird about this is that some of the records asked for and some of them covered by the von index are already publicly available. Letters from Congress, letters from DOJ to Congress, press clippings, typical agency communications, press releases and other items like that which dealt with ‘Fast and Furious’ but the administration is still claiming executive privilege when they know perfectly well that these communications are already in the public domain. It is just a question of whether Obama will ever do anything that comport (agree with) to the law and the Constitution. Again KUDO’s to Judicial Watch for starting this, but we also have to give thanks to a very courageous judge who probably knows that his career is finished- he will go no further up the Federal judicial ladder.
Judge John D Bates in the District Court of the District of Columbia. Not only did he require the DOJ to turn over the von index and then to justify each and every claim of executive privilege as to each and every one of those documents and then they’re going to have trial on whether any those claims make any sense. But he said “No court has ever expressly recognized the breadth of the executive privilege claims.” In other words, this is entirely without precedent, entirely illegal and entirely beyond the scope of executive privilege.