The Justice Department has handed over to House investigators 64,280 pages of documents related to the notoriously botched Operation Fast and Furious — data President Barack Obama had claimed was exempt from congressional review.
Calling the information an "election eve dump," House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa on Tuesday hailed the hand-over.
"This production is nonetheless a victory for the legislative branch, a victory for transparency, and a victory for efforts to check Executive Branch power," Issa said in a statement.
Justice department officials gave up the documents after an order from U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman
last Aug. 20.
"When Eric Holder wants to know why he was the first Attorney General held in criminal contempt of Congress, he can read the judge's order that compelled the production of 64,280 pages that he and President Obama illegitimately and illegally withheld from Congress," Issa chided, adding he'd continue his court fight for the information the committee has not yet seen.
In June 2012, the House found Holder in contempt of Congress
for failing to turn over more than 1,500 pages of Justice Department documents related to Fast and Furious.
"Since these pages still do not represent the entire universe of the documents the House of Representatives is seeking related to the Justice Department's cover-up of the botched gun-walking scandal that contributed to the death of a Border Patrol agent, our court case will continue," Issa said in his statement.
Operation Fast and Furious was a sting by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in October 2009 that aimed to track guns sold from Arizona gun shops to high-level arms traffickers.
But federal agents lost control of roughly 2,000 weapons, and many of them wound up at crime scenes in Mexico and the U.S. Two of the guns were found at the scene of the December 2010 slaying of border agent Brian Terry
near the Arizona border city of Nogales.
"The sheer volume of last night's document production — which consists entirely of documents that the Justice Department itself acknowledges are not covered by executive privilege — shows that the president and the attorney general attempted to extend the scope of the executive privilege well beyond its historical boundaries to avoid disclosing documents that embarrass or otherwise implicate senior Obama administration officials," the committee said in its news release of the dump.
Around two-thirds of the released documents are "well outside the scope of Executive Privilege," the committee asserts.
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