For the first time in his presidency, Barack Obama has invoked executive privilege to prevent White House documents being released to congress.
The documents were subpoenaed by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, which is investigating Attorney General Eric Holder in Fast & Furious, a program in which over 2,000 firearms were distributed along the southwest border by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. Those weapons later ended up in the hands of Mexican drug cartels and were used in a number of killings, including that of a U.S. Border Patrol agent.
The committee maintains that Holder and the Department of Justice were complicit in the scheme, and was about to vote Holder in contempt of court for not turning over the documents when the executive order came down. In asserting executive privilege, the White House said that releasing the confidential documents would have serious, lasting consequences, as they contain information related to ongoing criminal investigations. Executive privilege has been asserted 24 times going back to the Reagan administration; Bill Clinton used it 14 times, and George W. Bush six.
Does invoking executive privilege imply White House involvement in Fast & Furious, as some Republicans are maintaining? Is Obama’s action justifiable under the circumstances? What’s the next move for the committee? When and why should presidents use this powerful tool to override congress?
Allan Lichtman, Professor of history, presidential historian at American University; Author of “13 Keys to the White House”
Adam B. Schiff, (D-CA) Congressman representing California’s 29th district, which includes Alhambra, Altadena, Burbank, Glendale, Griffith Park, Monterey Park, Pasadena, San Gabriel, South Pasadena, Temple City
Tim Donnelly, California State Assemblyman, R-59th District (San Bernardino, San Dimas)
Jonathan Wilcox, Republican strategist and former speech writer for Governor Pete Wilson
Darry Sragow, attorney and long time Democratic political strategist