Katie Pavlich
Presidential administration officials have been held in contempt only 12 times since Watergate in the 1970s, but number 13 may be on its way. Attorney General Eric Holder has refused to supply the House Oversight Committee with requested documents surrounding Operation Fast and Furious, the lethal and botched operation in which thousands of semi-automatic weapons were illegally sent over the border and into the hands of Mexican drug cartels. The operation resulted in the death of thousands of Mexican citizens and Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, and involved the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (a division of Holder’s Justice Department.)

Yesterday, during a hearing on Capitol Hill examining whether the DOJ must respond to a lawfully issued and valid Congressional subpoena, multiple witnesses confirmed that the DOJ is not above the law and must, in fact, comply with the subpoena. The witnesses, which included Commissioner on Wartime Contracting Professor Charles Tiefer, American Public Law Specialist at the Library of Congress Morton Rosenberg, and Legislative Attorney Todd Tatelman, confirmed it is a Constitutional duty for Congress to oversee and question executive branch activities.

“The Justice Department is not immune from these investigations,” Rosenberg said.

The hearing sustained that both the House and Senate Congressional Oversight Committees have the absolute right to pursue and obtain information surrounding actions taken by the executive branch, as was the Founding Fathers’ intention in limiting the size and power of the President and his administration. Legally, the executive branch can decline providing the Congressional Oversight Committees with requested documentation only when the President invokes a Privilege Law, which shields the release of certain information. In this case, President Obama has yet to do so, and at this point in time, the House Oversight Committee has full rights to the requested documents.

The Obama Justice Department has been stonewalling the House Oversight Committee for months, citing ongoing investigations within the DOJ surrounding Operation Fast and Furious, in addition to claiming the House Oversight Committee does not have the authority to access the requested information.

“As things stand now, they owe you the documents,” Professor Tiefer said while giving testimony, adding there is no Constitutional basis for the DOJ’s refusal.


Katie Pavlich

Katie Pavlich is the News Editor at Townhall.com. Follow her on Twitter @katiepavlich. She is a New York Times Best Selling author. Her new book Assault and Flattery: The Truth About the Left and Their War on Women, will be published on July 8, 2014.

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