House Asks Federal Court to Rule Against Attorney General’s Stonewalling in Fast and Furious

August 13, 2012

WASHINGTON—Today, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee filed a civil action to compel U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to produce documents related to Operation Fast and Furious subpoenaed by the Committee on October 11, 2011.  Among other things, the House’s legal action seeks to obtain documents covered by the subpoena that will show why the Justice Department took ten months to retract a February 4, 2011 letter which contained false denials of the reckless investigative tactics used in Operation Fast and Furious.  After months of stonewalling by the Attorney General and his staff, and minutes before the Oversight Committee convened a business meeting to consider a resolution holding the Attorney General in contempt, President Obama invoked an eleventh hour assertion of executive privilege over the documents.  The House’s filing asks the federal court to rule that President Obama’s assertion of executive privilege was invalid and compel Attorney General Eric Holder to produce subpoenaed documents.

“President Obama exceeded his authority by asserting executive privilege over subpoenaed documents related to the Justice Department’s cover-up of Operation Fast and Furious,” said Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa.  “Waiting nearly eight months after the subpoena had been issued to assert a meritless claim of privilege, the President’s decision was a calculated political maneuver designed to stop the release of documents until after November’s elections.  After promising an unprecedented level of transparency, the President is attempting to expand the reach of executive privilege to obstruct the truth about the reckless conduct that contributed to the death of a Border Patrol Agent and countless Mexican citizens.  The family of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, whistleblowers who faced retaliation for exposing the Justice Department’s reckless tactics, and the public have a right to know the full extent of what occurred.”

In June, 21 House Democrats crossed party lines to rebuke President Obama’s claim of executive privilege by supporting H.Res. 706, which authorized this action for the purpose of compelling production of the subpoenaed documents.  The Committee presented a report outlining the case for Contempt of Congress, which is available here.

The civil suit was filed today in Federal District Court for the District of Columbia by the General Counsel to the House of Representatives on behalf of the Oversight Committee. 

Click here for a copy of the civil action filed today.