On Thursday, Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley ripped President Barack Obama for his assertion of the executive privilege to keep hiding Operation Fast and Furious documents from Congress. Grassley said the White House must provide a “privilege log” detailing what documents Obama is exercising his power over, and what his legal argument for doing so is.
“The White House has already produced documents in Fast and Furious involving communications between White House staff and personnel from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, so it’s ironic that this claim comes up only now,” Grassley said. “Either way, the White House must produce a privilege log to make clear which documents they are asserting executive privilege to protect.”
Grassley also questioned why Attorney General Eric Holder was less than forthcoming, during a recent Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, when asked if the president would assert the privilege.
“Just last week, when the attorney general was in front of this committee, I asked him twice if the president could claim executive privilege to protect a certain internal Justice Department email that has been withheld,” Grassley said. “Given the explicit opportunity, the attorney general did not indicate he would be asking the president to assert executive privilege over such documents.”
“The attorney general repeatedly claimed that the Justice Department was making an ‘extraordinary offer’ Tuesday night,” Grassley continued. “The only thing extraordinary is that the attorney general offered a promise to produce documents one day and then asked the president to claim executive privilege over them the next.”
Grassley also attacked Obama for waiting until the eleventh hour to assert the privilege. “If this were a serious claim, it should have been raised much earlier,” Grassley said.
Even though the White House is legally required to produce a privilege, it’s unclear if Obama’s administration will. White House spokesman Eric Schultz would not answer when asked if the administration would.