In a bid to stall a contempt vote against Attorney General Eric Holder, President Barack Obama on Wednesday invoked executive privilege to withhold documents and communications related to the failed gun enforcement operation known as Fast and Furious.
An investigation by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform has Holder on the verge of being held in contempt of Congress for not turning over all documents investigators feel are pertinent to the operation.
On Tuesday, Holder sent a letter to Obama claiming that a release of the documents “would raise substantial separation of powers concerns and potentially create an imbalance in the relationship” between the Legislative and Executive branches.
Obama has never used executive privilege during his Presidency, but it has been used throughout U.S. history to preserve the confidentiality of information in the face of legislative inquiries.
Committee Chairman Representative Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said the White House use of executive privilege “falls short” of any reason to delay the contempt hearing and, after the President’s assertion, the committee moved ahead with discussion of the contempt citation.
Republicans say Obama’s move is proof that the White House has something to hide regarding Fast and Furious.