On CNN's State of the Union this morning, White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew was asked why President Obama asserted executive privilege for Attorney General Eric Holder over Fast and Furious documents when he railed against the use of executive privilege in 2007. Remember, President Obama campaigned on his administration being the "most transparent administration in history."
White House Chief Of Staff Jacob Lew: “Candy, let’s go back to the facts. The facts are that this was a bad plan, this Fast and Furious. It’s something that started in the Bush Administration and the Attorney General did not know about it. It came out of the region and when the Attorney General learned about it, what he did was stop it. He said it was wrong and he said we’re not going to do it. There was a period of time when the Attorney General didn’t know about it because it was happening at a regional office, that a statement was made to Congress that had to be corrected. The Attorney General corrected it. Every document related to the decisions up to that point has been shared. This is not a question of finding facts, this is a question that Congress at the beginning of this investigation said they were going to use their investigatory powers in a political way, and this is political not a substantive question.”
Rather than answering the question directly, Lew said, "Let's go back to the facts," and immediatly got his "facts" wrong. Lew claimed Fast and Furious started during the Bush administration. That assertion is false. Operation Fast and Furious started in September 2009, President Obama took office in January 2009. Lew also went on to defend Attorney General Eric Holder by saying this was a "regional program." If that was the case, then why is executive privilege necessary or valid in this case? Either the documents requested show some kind of White House communication or President Obama improperly asserted the privilege to buy Holder more time. Lew also said "every document related to the decisions up to that point has been shared," which is also false. There are 240,000 Fast and Furious documents available. The Justice Department has turned over 7,000. Of those 7,000 the majority are sheets of black ink due to extreme redaction. In relation to specific communications, just before the Oversight Committee contempt vote two weeks ago to hold the Attorney General in contempt, Chairman Darrell Issa narrowed his focus from 70,000 documents to 1300, yet Holder still failed to deliver anything substantial. Not to mention, 21 Democrats voted for civil contempt against Holder last week, which destroys Lew's "political" argument.
And finally: Lew said the Obama administration has been the most transparent administration ever.