White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew appeared on CNN’s State of the Union with Candy Crowley to talk about the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the President’s health care law. But he wound up being grilled on the hypocrisy of President Obama claiming executive privilege to avoid releasing documents related to the House’s investigation of the Fast and Furious operaton.
Crowley mentioned that Congress had voted to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress this past week for refusing to release documents that the congressional committee investigating Fast and Furious had requested. She said that President Obama claimed executive privilege even though he criticized George Bush for doing the same thing in an interview with Larry King in 2007.
“Obama: There’s been a tendency on the part of this administration to try to hide behind executive privilege every time there’s something a little shaky that’s taking place.”
Crowley then asked Lew why the administration invoked executive privilege when some people believe that there’s something “a little shaky taking place” right now.
Lew told Crowley that Fast and Furious was a bad plan that started under the Bush administration and that when Holder learned about it he put a stop to it. He also said that every document related to the decisions up to that point had been shared, and that the Congressional investigation isn’t about finding facts but rather about using its powers in a political way.
Crowley then asked what is so important about these papers that the President had to invoke executive privilege when he had previously said, “What is the point here?”
Lew’s response was that the Obama administration was the most transparent ever and that the decisions they relied on go back to the Reagan administration, once again trying to tie the use of executive privilege to a Republican president.
Crowley continued to probe, by asking Lew why they did it and what was in the papers that required invoking executive privilege, to which the “transparent” Lew replied that he wasn’t going to get into the specifics of the documents. He said that the House committee was on a “political witch hunt.”
The Fast and Furious operation has been a major embarrassment for the Obama administration and Lew struggled to convince Crowley that the President wasn’t being hypocritical when he invoked executive privilege, because it’s hard to defend the indefensible.
Score this one for Crowley and the mainstream media.