15 minutes before the House Oversight Committee was scheduled to begin proceedings to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress, President Obama indicated through Deputy Attorney General James Cole that he will grant executive privilege regarding all Fast and Furious Documents (you can see the letter from Cole to Chairman Issa here). Of course, receiving a letter with the promise of executive privilege is not the same thing as the President issuing an executive privilege. Gabriel Malor notes in his 2008 primer on this topic that, “It is important to note that executive privilege is not usually applied in a blanket fashion, where a person refuses to testify entirely or to return any documents at all. Often, the subpoenaed individual will testify, but assert executive privilege as to specific questions or documents requested. It is unlikely that they have a valid claim of privilege to every conceivable question that they could be asked.”
Make sure to read Malor’s entire primer. Also, watch then Senator Obama speak out against Executive Privilege in 2007 below the fold.
As members awaited the President’s promised privilege, the House commenced proceedings against Eric Holder as scheduled. You can read Malor’s more recent primer on what to expect if the House Committee votes in favor of contempt – as they are expected to do – here.
Meanwhile, here’s what then Senator Obama had to say about executive privilege in 2007