Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Justice Department’s list of withheld Fast and Furious documents: 1,323 pages long

From intrepid journalist Sharyl Attkisson, the latest on the Obama administration’s operation to run guns to Mexican drug cartels in order to motivate stricter gun regulations here in the USA.

Excerpt:

For the first time, the Department of Justice has provided a detailed description of 15,662 Fast and Furious-related documents it is withholding from Congress, the public and the press under executive privilege exerted by President Obama.

The description comes in the form of a so-called Vaughn index ordered by a federal court in a lawsuit filed against the Justice Department by the conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch. The Justice Department waited to provide the index, due yesterday, until 8:34 p.m.

The number of withheld documents is so extensive, that the list describing them is 1,323 pages long.

[...]Among the withheld communications is a March 8, 2011 email from a Mexico-based Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) official less than one week after federal agent John Dodson blew the whistle on Fast and Furious in an interview with me for CBS News. The email is described as “discussing response to [Mexico].”

Another withheld email sent in the same time period is from then-White House official Kevin O’Reilly. Dated March 10, 2011, it was sent to more than a dozen federal officials and is described as, “discussing draft press statement.”

More withheld emails “forwarding and discussing news items” have Attorney General Holder’s name on them. One series of such exchanges is dated July 26, 2011, the same day I reported the revelation that ATF had shared information about Fast and Furious with the White House.

[...]Other withheld documents are concerning Freedom of Information (FOI) requests I made in May of 2011. It’s unclear as to why the president would exert executive privilege to keep from turning over documents discussing “which office will respond” to my FOI requests. The Justice Department never properly responded to my requests.

Please see below for more on what Fast and Furious was all about. The mid-term elections are coming up. Don’t let Democrats shake this off!

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The seven worst things Eric Holder did as attorney general

The list is from the Daily Signal.

The list:

  1. Gun smuggling
  2. Corrupting election process
  3. Failure to investigate IRS targeting of conservative groups
  4. Failure to take the threat of terrorism seriously
  5. Refusing to respect and defend the rule of law
  6. Allying with leftist groups to “sue and settle” with conservative groups
  7. Treated the oversight responsibility of Congress with contempt

I’ve written about the one that bothered me the most – the refusal to investigate the IRS. I just want to make clear how bad this one was.

Look:

Outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder’s legacy – or at least a big part of it – will be obstructing the investigation into the Internal Revenue Service targeting of conservative groups, said Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), who set a low bar for the next attorney general.

“Whoever is going to be next, they have to be better than Eric Holder was,” Jordan told The Blaze on the day Holder announced he was retiring from his controversial tenure as head of the Justice Department.

Jordan is the chairman of the subcommittee for regulatory affairs for the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, in which he has probed the IRS targeting of tea party and conservative groups.

Primarily, he points to Holder naming DOJ attorney Barbara Bosserman, who contributed more than $6,000 to President Barack Obama and the Democratic National Committee, to run the investigation.

“It just shows the arrogance that is in this attorney general’s agency during his tenure,” Jordan said.

Every House Republican and 26 House Democrats voted for a resolution asking for a special prosecutor to investigate the IRS scandal. Holder ignored the resolution.

Not only that, but Jordan points out that Holder is stepping down in the middle of other unanswered questions, such as Operation Fast and Furious and Solyndra – matters that were not resolved but dropped out of focus.

Jordan said of the entire IRS scandal, “This is like a third rate, B actor crime drama.”

The reason, he is because of a predictable script. First, he said, Obama talks about shadowy conservative groups, then Democratic senators write letters to the IRS demanding an investigation. Once the IRS is caught for their targeting, they blame lower level employees. When that didn’t work, they blamed Russell George, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration for being unfair.

“The last thing they do what everyone else does when they’re caught in a crime, they lose the evidence,” Jordan said, referring to the lost e-mails from Lois Lerner, the former head of the tax exempt organizations unit for the IRS.

This is the kind of administration we’ve had for the past 5+ years. It was Watergate every day in this administration. And it’s not going to stop unless we throw the out the crooks in the next election and put in moral people.

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Why is attorney general Eric Holder retiring now?

Here’s one  possible reason why Eric Holder is resigning ahead of the mid-term elections.

Excerpt:

U.S. District Court Judge John D. Bates has denied a request from the Department of Justice to delay the release of a list of Operation Fast and Furious documents being protected under President Obama’s assertion of executive privilege.

The list, better known as a Vaughn index, was requested through a June 2012 FOIA filing by government watchdog Judicial Watch. When DOJ didn’t respond to the FOIA request in the time required by law, Judicial Watch sued in September 2012, seeking all documents DOJ and the White House are withholding from Congress under executive privilege claims. President Obama made the assertion on June 20, 2012 just moments before Attorney General Eric Holder was held in contempt. In July 2014, after two years of battling for information, Judge Bates ordered the Department of Justice to release the Vaughn Index by October 1. DOJ responded by asking for a month long delay in releasing the list with a deadline of November 3, just one day before the 2014-midterm elections. That request has been denied. A short delay was granted and DOJ must produce the Vaughn index by October 22.

[...]“The Obama administration failed to game the courts and now will have to account for its Fast and Furious lies. Two federal courts have now rejected Eric Holder’s election-related ploy to keep this information from the American people,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said in a statement in reaction to the ruling.

Even if Holder resigns now to avoid influencing the midterm elections, the contempt of Congress inquiry will go on.

Excerpt:

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. announced Thursday he is resigning as soon as a replacement is found, though he and the Justice Department still face contempt ofCongress charges that will linger well after he officially gives up the office.

Analysts said Mr. Holder — the first sitting Cabinet official ever to face a contempt citation from Congress — will likely duck any legal punishment, though his department will soon be forced to begin turning over the documents he withheld, which sparked the initial fight. It’s just the latest in a series of stormy disputes that have defined his turbulent six-year tenure.

From declining to defend the Defense of Marriage Act to backing President Obama in a losing constitutional battle over presidential recess appointments and fighting — unsuccessfully, so far — to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Mr. Holder has been the spearhead for most of Mr. Obama’s major legal decisions.

[...]“Eric Holder is the most divisive U.S. attorney general in modern history,” said Rep. Darrell E. Issa, the California Republican who, as chairman of the House oversight committee, led the push to hold Mr. Holder in contempt for refusing to turn over documents detailing how the Justice Department handled the investigation into the botched Fast and Furious gunwalking operation.

It’s not a “gunwalking” operation, it’s a gun SMUGGLING operation. Our government smuggled guns to Mexican drug cartels. Who would want to talk about that before mid-term elections? Obviously not Eric Holder.

UPDATE: The seven worst things Eric Holder did as attorney general.

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Judge orders DOJ to release Fast and Furious documents blocked by Obama

Katie Pavlich reports on it for Townhall.com.

Excerpt:

Thanks to a Freedom of Information Act Lawsuit pursued against the Department of Justice by government watchdog Judicial Watch, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia has ruled documents being withheld from Congress under President Obama’s claim of executive privilege must be turned over. Obama made the claim on the same day Attorney General Eric Holder was voted in criminal and civil contempt of Congress in June 2012.

“This order forces the Obama DOJ, for the first time, to provide a detailed listing of all documents that it has withheld from Congress and the American people for years about the deadly Fast and Furious gun running scandal,” Judicial Watch released in a statement.

The FOIA lawsuit has been ongoing for 16-months and is now proceeding after a lengthy delay. The Justice Department originally asked the court for an indefinite hold on a FOIA request from Judicial Watch, citing executive privilege and an ongoing investigation. That indefinite hold request was shot down more than a year ago.

The documentation DOJ is required to now turn over is a “Vaughn index” of “all requested Fast and Furious materials from a June 2012 Judicial Watch FOIA request.”

A Vaughn index must: (1) identify each document withheld; (2) state the statutory exemption claimed; and (3) explain how disclosure would damage the interests protected by the claimed exemption.” In ordering the DOJ to provide Judicial Watch the Vaughn index, the Court ruled, “In this circuit, when an agency is withholding documents under exemption claims, courts require that the agency provide a Vaughn index so that the FOIA requester – at a distinct informational disadvantage – may test the agency’s claims.”

“Once again, Judicial Watch has beat Congress to the punch in getting key information about another Obama scandal – this time, the Fast and Furious outrage,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said in a statement. “A federal court has ordered the Obama administration to produce information that could, for the first time, provide specific details who in the administration is responsible for Fast and Furious lies to Congress and the American people. This is a battle that put Eric Holder in contempt of Congress, saw Nixonian assertions of executive privilege by Barack Obama, and a hapless Congress in face of all this lawlessness. Finally, we may get some accountability for Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry and the countless others murdered as a result of the insanely reckless Obama administration program.”

Unfortunately, this is coming too late for Obama’s 2012 re-election contest, and the mainstream media is unlikely to report it, just like they failed to report the IRS scandal. But if we all share this story, it will help people to realize how lawless and corrupt this administration really is. It’s gangster government, as Michele Bachmann said. The crooks are in charge.

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House Republicans vote to hold Lois Lerner in contempt of Congress

From CBS News.

Excerpt:

The Republican-led House voted Wednesday to hold former Internal Revenue Service official Lois Lerner in contempt of Congress for refusing to answer questions related to the agency’s undue scrutiny of certain tax-exempt groups.

The vote to hold Lerner in contempt of Congress was 231-187, with all Republicans voting in favor and all but a few Democrats voting against.

It’s now up to a local U.S. attorney to consider criminal charges against Lerner. The Justice Department, however, has ignored past contempt charges against executive branch officials, including contempt charges against Attorney General Eric Holder.

[...]Republicans maintain they are determined to get to the bottom of the scandal and find out why IRS officials, starting in 2010, unfairly targeted groups for their political activity.

[...]In addition to holding Lerner in contempt, the House also voted 250-168 to approve a resolution calling on Holder to appoint a special counsel to investigate the IRS targeting.

According to Hot Air, “Lerner could face fines up to $100,000 and even a up to a year of jail time”.

In other news, Trey Gowdy, who is heading the new select committee on Benghazi, is kicking some serious ass.

Transcript fragment:

MEGYN KELLY: I know you said you intend to subpoena her, that you want her to appear before your committee. However, and I say this respectfully, the last time she appeared before Congress what we had was a series of speeches from the lawmakers, without that many probing questions. I hear that from my viewers often when we look back on those hearings. What would be different this time?

TREY GOWDY: Well, what will be different is I’m not necessarily committing to hearing. I’m committing to the getting the answers and may be in the form of a deposition, which, as you know, Megyn, as a very good attorney, which you once were, that is the route that is most conducive with eliciting the truth. It’s not five minutes of pounding your chest in a committee room. It’s a deposition.

MEGYN KELLY: Can she get out of that?

TREY GOWDY: Well, if she can get out of a subpoena, she can get out of it. But I don’t send invitations to cocktail parties. We’re going to send subpoenas and we’re going to expect her to comply and if you don’t comply, she’ll suffer the same panoply of consequences that any of your viewers who don’t comply with a subpoena would suffer.

I was hoping they were going to pick him to lead the committee, and I believe we are finally going to get some answers on this scandal.

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