- Post 13 June 2012
- By Copy Editor
Attorney General Eric Holder testified today before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Oversight member Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) challenged the Attorney General on what "legal ground" he was withholding emails that pertained to leaked wiretap affidavits about the government's "Fast and Furious" operation.
Holder responds that he is willing to "compromise" on this issue and "work our way through this in attempt to avoid a constitutional crisis"
GRASSLEY: The ATF contradicted the public denials from Congress. He immediately sent an email warning others to hold back off the letters to Senator Grassley in light of the information of the affidavit? ... yet, the department didn't withdraw the letter to me until December 2011. In July 2011, we asked for that email from acting director Melson, we need to see it to corroborate his testimony, yet the department is withholding that email along with every other document after February 4th, 2011.
On what legal ground, are you withholding that email? The President can't claim executive privilege to withhold that email, is that correct?
HOLDER: Well, let me just say this, we have reached out to Chariman Issa, members of Leadership on the House side to try to work our way through these issues. We've had sporadic contacts and we are prepared to make... I am prepared to make compromises in regard to the documents that can be made available. There is a basis for the withholding of these documents, if they deal with deliberative....
Well, the tradition has always been by members of the Justice Department whether led by Republicans or Democrats to withhold deliberative thrill, but in spite of that, I want to make it very clear that I am offering to sit down by myself, I am offering to sit down with the Chairman, with the speaker, with you, whoever to work our way through this in attempt to avoid a constitutional crisis and come up with ways, creative ways perhaps, in which we can make this material available, but I've got to have a willing partner. I extended my hand and I'm waiting to hear back.
4:15 - End
GRASSLEY: I wrote to you four months ago asking you to seek permission from the Court to share the affidavits with Congress and I have received no substantive reply, you did acknowledge my letter. Will you seek the Courts permission to release the affidavits so people can read them and decipher themselves what they mean and if there's any problems with something sensitive couldn't a judge make an independent decision removing truly sensitive information before release, and if you have any concerns, which I hope you don't have any concerns, wouldn't that address your concerns?
HOLDER: Well, that would be a truly extraordinarily act as I have done, we have done, just some preliminary research and it has not happen very frequently. We have only found a limited number of cases where we have, the Justice Department, has sought to have wire tap information made available, but I will put that on the table as something we can consider. We want to make sure that if we do share that information it does not have an impact on ongoing investigations—But as I said, I am willing to consider that as a possibility to try and avoid what I think is an impending Constitutional Crisis.