As the House Oversight Committee moves to a vote today on whether or not to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt over the infamous gun-running program, Fast and Furious, President Obama has claimed executive privilege in an attempt to shield Holder.
The power of executive privilege, while not expressly granted in the Constitution, has been upheld by the Supreme Court and allows the president and certain members of the executive branch to not answer to certain types of charges, such as the Congressional subpoena, that the legislative and judicial branches may try to bring.
However, as Judge Andrew Napolitano noted on Fox News earlier today, this may ultimately hurt both Holder and Obama, as in order for executive privelege to apply, the president must be personally involved. This counters statements that Holder made during Congressional testimony.
Executive privilege has only been exercised 25 times since Reagan’s presidency, most frequently by Bill Clinton, who exercised the privilege 12 times. During his presidency, George W. Bush utilized the power 6 times. Unfortunately for President Obama, in 2007, he appeared on CNN and told Larry King that Bush’s use of the privilege was not a good reason to withhold information from Congress. Then-Senator Obama criticized Bush for hiding behind the power, and stated that the American people deserve to know the truth.
Apparently in Obama’s eyes, the same high standards of transparency Congress and the American people deserve don’t apply in this situation.