The “most transparent administration in history” is once again revealing the rank hypocrisy of President Obama’s assessment. In a motion filed Monday night, lawyers from the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) asked U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson to delay the transfer of documents related to the Fast and Furious gun-running scandal to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, until after her rulings requiring that transfer can be appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. If their bid is successful, it could push the appeals process past the Obama administration’s time in office. In short, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is trying to run out the clock.
Last July, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ordered the DOJ to turn over a “Vaughn index” of all Fast and Furious-requested documents sought by Judicial Watch, which had filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request in June 2012. The records sought by Judicial Watch were those withheld from the Oversight Committee when President Obama cited executive privilege in a transparent effort to protect his Attorney General. U.S. District Court Judge John D. Bates lifted the 16-month delay, despite contentions by the DOJ that turning over the records would interfere with litigation between the agency and the Oversight Committee, which had subpoenaed the same documents.
Bates’ ruling was clear:
In the [February 15, 2013] order granting the stay, this court explicitly noted that the DOJ ‘does not seek, and the court will not award, an indefinite stay pending ultimate resolution of the House Committee litigation,’ and that ‘the benefits of delaying this case might well [become] too attenuated to justify any further delay …Because many of the issues to be resolved in this case do not overlap with the House committee, and because resolving those issues will not risk upsetting the delicate balance of powers in subpoena disputes between the political branches, the Court will require DOJ to produce a Vaughn index here.
Bates also noted that no court has ever “expressly recognized” the executive privilege claims made by Obama preventing these documents from being seen by Congress and the American public.