Issa: Obama's Executive Privilege Claims Resemble 'Watergate'

Wednesday, 27 Jun 2012 07:12 AM

By Greg McDonald

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Rep. Darrell Issa is accusing President Barack Obama of engaging in a Watergate-like cover-up to hide the truth behind the Justice Department’s Fast and Furious gun-tracking operation until after the November election.
“Ultimately this bears a striking resemblance of something that happened when I was a very young man,” Issa told Fox News’ Sean Hannity Tuesday. “And that was when [President Richard] Nixon pushed the emerging discussion and discovery of the [White House] plumbers’ activity at Watergate — pushed it past the election.”
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The chairman of the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee again challenged the president’s claim of executive privilege over documents related to Attorney General Eric Holder’s investigation of Fast and Furious.
Issa suggested that all the facts — just as in the Watergate cover-up — may not come out until after the election.
“Ultimately [Nixon] won that [1972] election overwhelmingly and then the facts eventually came out,” the California Republican said. “In this case, I don’t believe the fallout is directly [aimed at] the president, but he is pushing on behalf of key people who work for him . . . hoping that his popularity will prevent us from getting to the truth.”
“That’s not something that I think is in the best interest of the Constitution,” Issa added.
A vote on whether to hold Holder in contempt of Congress for failing to turn over documents is scheduled for Thursday in the House.
Issa said it was the correct action to take because “we were flat-out lied to” about what Holder and other federal officials knew about the effort to track guns that ended up in the hands of Mexican drug cartels and may have been used in the death of Border Patrol agent Brian Terry.
“They said they never let guns walk, when in fact, Fast and Furious was about deliberately and knowingly letting 2,000 very powerful weapons cross the border with the knowledge of ATF and high-ranking individuals in the Justice Department,” Issa insisted.
He said the contempt citation covers a “very narrow” timeframe, roughly the last 10 months in which his committee was given false testimony about Fast and Furious. Issa said it also covers a “false letter” sent to the committee in which unnamed federal officials denied any knowledge of the gun-tracking operation.
“If we can figure out the people who lied to get that false letter to us and then lied to keep it covered up, we may very well find that those are the same people who ultimately are responsible for Fast and Furious that need to be held accountable,” Issa said.
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Issa acknowledged, however, that Holder himself had “corrected the record” to say he was “mistaken” about when he was first informed about Fast and Furious.
In a letter sent to the White House earlier Monday, Issa asserted that the claim of executive privilege is usually reserved for documents and communications between the president and his most senior advisers. He cited at least one federal court opinion backing up his assertion that it would not apply in the case of Fast and Furious.
“The American people don’t want to have an executive privilege,” Issa said, adding that it’s important for Congress to push for “the freedom and transparency that groups on the left and the right are always encouraging.”
“If our branch [of government] doesn’t assert itself, ultimately we are no longer the republic our founders wanted us to be,” he said.

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