You’ve probably either seen the news clips on television, or read something about Congress’ vote to hold U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt for supposedly withholding information in the investigation of “Fast and Furious”. And, if you have, there is a very good possibility that you’re confused considering how ridiculous and outrageous this whole mess is.
Not to worry, Rachel Maddow to the rescue, during 2 segments of her show. Watch this video/segment first in order to learn the basis of the latest wingnut conspiracy theory which got Holder in trouble with the congressional Frothing-at-the-Mouth-Republicans:
The second video talks about the congressional action on Holder yesterday, along with some discussion of the gun control issue. Watch:
Now, Holder’s contempt citation isn’t the end of it by any means, and in fact, the President asserted executive authority in this matter yesterday, and while conservatives would like you believe that this means he was somehow directly involved in the idiocy, it does not necessarily mean that. Steve Benen:
A spokesperson for House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said the decision "implies" that White House officials were involved in the operation. Fox News' Andrew Napolitano made the same argument on the air: "Executive privilege protects communications with the president, the human being of the president, not with people that work for him and the Justice Department."
No matter what one thinks of the underlying controversy -- and for the record, I think the right's interest in the matter is kind of silly -- it's worth pausing to clarify that executive privilege doesn't necessarily involve communications with the president. Josh Israel noted there are actually "two types executive privilege: the robust 'presidential communications privilege' and the more limited 'deliberative process privilege.'"
The White House may invoke the latter to apply to executive branch officials outside of the president's inner circle, as long as they were involved with the government's decision-making process. Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush all asserted executive privilege in matters not involving presidential communications.
And Bush Administration Attorney General Michael Mukasey invoked the same "deliberative process privilege" as recently as 2008, rejecting congressional subpoenas for reports of Department of Justice interviews with the White House staff regarding the Valerie Plame Wilson identify leak investigation.
Republicans, including House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), are well aware of this -- they endorsed the distinction during the Bush/Cheney era -- and have acknowledged that executive privilege is not limited to the president's direct communications.
But they're playing a political game today, hoping you aren't well aware of this.
Now that you’re reasonably well informed you might be tempted to think that since this mess all hinges on both a George W. Bush policy, and a seriously crazy/whacko conspiracy theory by a ridiculous little man wingnut who counts for, well, nothing, that this will all go away soon.