It's been just over a week since Attorney General Eric Holder officially announced he would be sticking around as the head of the Justice Department for "about a year," but his planned departure hasn't made the battle for Fast and Furious documents go away and the House Oversight Committee, headed by Chairman Darrell Issa, is still embroiled in a lawsuit over President Obama's assertion of executive privilege over subpoenaed documents. Regardless, it looks like DOJ might be willing to strike some kind of deal to get the scandal to go away.
Lawyers for U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and a House committee said they will discuss settling a lawsuit to enforce congressional subpoenas probing the Justice Department’s Operation Fast and Furious.
Holding settlement talks “is the appropriate course here,” Ian Gershengorn, a deputy assistant attorney general, told U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson in a hearing today in Washington.
Kerry Kircher, the House general counsel, said the meeting should occur in the “near future.” No date has been set. The parties rejected the judge’s offer to appoint a mediator.
The lawsuit against Holder brought by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee stems from the panel’s investigation into so-called gun walking, which allowed illegal gun purchases in the U.S. to proceed in an effort to link the weapons to Mexican gangs. Holder, citing executive privilege, has refused to give lawmakers some material they wanted.
The Republican-controlled House is seeking documents describing internal Justice Department discussions about a February 2011 letter to lawmakers that Holder later said mistakenly contained incorrect information.
The letter said the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, which conducted Fast and Furious, hadn’t “knowingly allowed” the tactics in the law enforcement operation to be employed.
DOJ "deals" with the Oversight Committee have a history of not being deals at all. Let's not forget what happened before Holder was held in contempt by Congress back in June. The night before the vote, Holder agreed to present around 1,000 Fast and Furious documents (out of 80,000 requested) to Issa, so long as he dropped the investigation into the operation and DOJ's role all together. For obvious reasons Issa declined and the next day Holder was voted in contempt.
At this point, DOJ's non-cooperation has made Fast and Furious President Obama's problem. Obama has said from day one he was not informed of the operation, that this was a "low-level" rogue investigation run by a few agents out of Phoenix and members of Obama's White House national security team, including the head of Latin American relations, received emails about Fast and Furious. White House officals who received those emails have been made unavailable to the Oversight Committee. We know through mounds of evidence the claim Fast and Furious was a low level, rogue operation based in one ATF office is completely false. That being said, if it was a low level operation as Obama had claimed, his executive privilege wouldn't apply anyway, not to mention, we know the White House had at least some involement in the scandal.
The bottom line is this, either Obama really wasn't briefed on Fast and Furious, despite evidence suggesting otherwise, and he abused his powers by asserting executive privilege to save his attorney general from embarrassment, or, Obama was briefed about Fast and Furious and has something to hide especially when it comes to the coverup.
In terms of the infamous February 4, 2011 letter, this was the letter that DOJ sent to Senator Grassley denying gunwalking had ever occurred. The same letter was withdrawn 9 months later due to it's grossly false content.