Obama Administration’s Privilege Claims Are Even More Frivolous Than We Knew

Most people have concluded that the Obama administration is incompetent, but we must admit that it is supremely talented at one thing: stonewalling. Time after time, the administration has managed to run out the clock on scandals through sheer chutzpah. Fast and Furious, as the longest-running Obama scandal, is farthest along in this respect.

Judicial Watch made a Freedom of Information Act request for a very limited number of documents relating to Fast and Furious, and got stiffed. The organization then started a lawsuit to compel production of the requested documents. Years later, the lawsuit grinds along slowly, the Obama administration’s coverup still intact. Obama and his attorney general, Eric Holder, refused to produce many of the documents requested by Judicial Watch on the ground of executive privilege. I wrote in June 2012 that the administration’s assertion of executive privilege was “frivolous” under prevailing federal law.

I didn’t know how right I was. More than two years later, I wrote here that a federal court in Washington had finally ordered the Obama administration, not to produce the documents in question, but to produce a list of those that were being withheld on privilege grounds and a description of each document so that Judicial Watch can evaluate the claim of privilege. The court ordered the Justice Department to produce this index by October 1.

The Obama administration tried to put this obligation off until after the election, but the court refused, granting DOJ an extension until yesterday. So the long-awaited index of documents being kept secret by the administration–the list itself is more than 1,300 pages long–has finally been made public. Judicial Watch reports on what it received here. I am beyond being shocked by the Obama administration, but I confess that this was surprising:

The document details the Attorney General Holder’s personal involvement in managing the Justice Department’s strategy on media and Congressional investigations into the Fast and Furious scandal. Notably, the document discloses that emails between Attorney General Holder and his wife Sharon Malone – as well as his mother – are being withheld under an extraordinary claim of executive privilege as well as a dubious claim of deliberative process privilege under the Freedom of Information Act. The “First Lady of the Justice Department” is a physician and not a government employee.

Let’s repeat that: the Obama administration has been keeping secret emails that Eric Holder wrote to his wife and mother for more than two years on the ground of executive privilege. I termed the administration’s privilege claims “frivolous” when I naively assumed we were talking about legitimate business communications among executive branch employees. We now know that the position being taken by President Obama is a bad joke. The Obama administration doesn’t just break the law. It laughs at the law. It mocks the law. It treats as a sucker every citizen who imagines that there is still a shred of integrity in the executive branch.

But, hey, let’s give him credit: when it comes to stonewalling, Barack Obama is a master.

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