White House Won't Let Rep. Issa Question Key Staffer About Fast and Furious

The most transparent administration ever has just invoked Executive Privilege in refusing to allow Congressman Issa and Senator Grassley to question former NSA White House staffer, Kevin O'Reilly regarding Operation Fast and Furious.

Kathryn Ruemmler, counsel to the president, denied Issa's demand to speak with O'Reilly.

Over six months ago, the White House produced documents responsive to your prior request for communications between Mr. O'Reilly and ATF agent William Newell that relate to "Operation Fast and Furious" or any ATF gun trafficking cases in Phoenix, AZ... none of these limited communications between Mr. O'Reilly and Mr. Newell revealed the existence of any of the inappropriate investigative tactics at issue in your inquiry, let alone any decision to allow guns to "walk."

O'Reilly was transferred to Clinton's State Department in late spring 2011 and then sent to Iraq in September after documents released to the House Oversight Committee revealed extensive communications between himself and ATF Special Agent in Charge of the Phoenix office Bill Newell who led Fast and Furious.

Emails show Newell was in routine contact with Kevin O'Reilly, then White House director of North American Affairs for the National Security Council.

In September Issa sent a letter to National Security Advisor Thomas E. Donilon, a top aide to President Obama requesting all communications between the White House and the Phoenix ATF office. The request came after Issa determined some of the emails between Newell and O'Reilly contained information directly linked to Operation Fast and Furious.

In the letter Issa referred to an email in which Newell told O'Reilly about a "specific case ATF agents had been aware of for three months involving a 22-year-old illegal gun purchaser whom the ATF allowed to buy nearly 700 firearms."

The purchaser was on food stamps and, Newell said in a follow-up email to O'Reilly, "when a 22-year-old kid on State financial assistance walks into a gun store and plops down $12,000 in cash to buy a tripod mounted .50 caliber rifle that's a clue even for us that he's involved in trafficking firearms for a Mexican DTO cartel.'[sic]

According to Issa, that exchange of information makes it "clear the case Mr. Newell and Mr. O'Reilly were communicating about Fast and Furious."

The emails link the operation that ended up killing two federal agents and hundreds of Mexican citizens (where're La Raza and MALDEF?) directly to the White House.

I'm no lawyer but in the 2006 U.S Attorney firing scandal "the court held that the privilege over presidential communications can never be used to withhold information on matters that do not call for the President's direct involvement."

Instead, the court adopted an organizational approach based on proximity to the President, and affirmed what it 'saw as Espy's holding: that the presidential communications privilege extends only to those documents and communications authored by or "solicited and received" by the President or immediate advisers in the Office of the President who have "broad and significant responsibility" for advising the President.

Both Holder and Obama said early on they had no knowledge of the gun walking program. Obama told CNN Espanol in March, 2011 he heard it "on the news" and "the attorney general has been very clear he knew nothing about it."

Then Holder contradicted the President's statement in a May 3 congressional hearing when he said he found out about the operation "over the last few weeks." Even worse when Newell was asked to explain why he broke the chain of command by communicating with a White House staffer he insisted that he and O'Reilly were just friends exchanging emails back and forth.

So how exactly does Executive Privilege apply in this situation?

Read more M. Catharine Evans at Potter Williams Report

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