Back in July after a long FOIA lawsuit from government watchdog Judicial Watch, a federal judge ordered the Department of Justice to produce a detailed list or Vaughn Index of documents being withheld from Congress and the American people under President Obama's executive privilege claim. A month later in August, a federal judge ordered DOJ to turn over a privilege log of withheld documents to the House Oversight Committee. Both orders were to be completed by October 1.
Now, Attorney General Eric Holder is asking a federal judge to delay (again) an order requiring him to turn over thousands of Fast and Furious documents, not just a detailed list. More from POLITICO:
Attorney General Eric Holder is again asking a federal court to delay the transfer of disputed documents relating to Operation Fast and Furious to a House committee.
In a new court filing Monday night, Justice Department lawyers asked U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson not to require Holder to turn over any of the roughly 64,000 pages of documents to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee until after her rulings can be appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.
"The Department respectfully submits that it would be preferable for the parties, this Court, and the D.C. Circuit — if an appeal were taken — to have any injunctive order await the conclusion of the district court litigation to allow for orderly and complete appellate proceedings," DOJ lawyers wrote.
Jackson has previously denied DOJ permission to file an immediate appeal, although lawyers for Holder indicated in the new filing (posted here) that they may do so anyway. Any appeal is likely to take months and perhaps more than a year to resolve. If that process does not begin until Jackson rules definitively on the the executive privilege claim President Barack Obama has made for many of the documents, the timeline for the case being resolved could begin to approach the end of the Obama administration.
How convenient that the appeals process will bump right up against the end of Obama's, and therefore Holder's, time in office. This tactic and strategy has been used by Holder since the beginning to run out the clock until a new administration comes into office and dumps the case.
Regardless, Holder is still required to produce a list of documents by October 1, which will give us significant insight into the kind of documents the Department of Justice is trying so desperately to hide.