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Friday, June 22, 2012

What To Expect After House Vote on Holder Contempt Charge

After the Holder Contempt of Congress vote by the House Oversight Committee on Wednesday, talk radio was almost wall to wall Fast and Furious on Thursday.  Rush Limbaugh dedicated most of his show Wednesday and Thursday to the President claiming executive privilege and Fast and Furious.  Wednesday night, Mark Levin put the issue into a legal context that was easy for the non-lawyer to understand.

The full House is scheduled to vote on the charge against Eric Holder next week if he does not comply with the subpoena issued by the House Oversight Committee.  So what does a vote by the full House mean?  Yesterday's Roll Call Daily Briefing offered their take:
And, after that vote, there’s no reason to believe the Justice Department will do anything other than what other Justice Departments in other balance-of-power clashes with other presidents have done, which is to slow-walk or outright stonewall its response to the contempt order. (Federal prosecutors, in other words, are not going to move against their own boss to make him turn over the records the House GOP wants.) And at that point, Boehner and the other GOP leaders are extremely unlikely to escalate the standoff by suing (or sending the House sergeant-at-arms to arrest the attorney general) because what they really want is to use the contretemps to illustrate their view that it’s the fault of Obama and the Democrats that Washington is a non-functioning cesspool.
Lawyer, former Chief of Staff to Ed Meese (President Reagan's  Attorney General), and talk show host, Mark Levin, offered some advice to Rep. Darrell Issa and the GOP members of the House Oversight Committee.
Levin stated his belief that this is all part of the administration's plan.  It was all calculated to stretch this as far as possible.  We will see if they have miscalculated.
The right way to proceed is to hold Holder in contempt by resolution of the House and seek authorization from the House for the Committee, by its Chairman, to proceed by civil action to compel production of the documents. (Holder will not enforce a holding of contempt against himself -- and by the way, he should have authorized, say, the assistant attorney general for legal counsel, to handle the contempt matter once the House voted as at that point he is representing his own interests and not those of the nation generally). Chairman Issa should file suit in federal court in DC and seek expedited action. There is no need for Senate action. The use of this procedure has been acknowledged by the Congressional Research Service in a 2007 study. Further, a privilege log should be sought by Issa and ordered produced immediately by the court, in camera inspection done promptly by the judge, and a final order entered compelling production of all documents for which no legitimate reason justifies Executive Privilege.

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