Rep. Trent Franks: Why Invoke Executive Privilege If There’s Nothing to Hide?

By Fred Lucas | June 25, 2012 | 5:32 AM EDT

Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) ( Starr)

( – Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) says he is prepared to vote this week in favor of holding Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress for refusing to turn over documents subpoenaed eight months ago in the Fast and Furious scandal.

He also expressed surprise that President Barack Obama has involved himself in the case.

“At first he kept an arm’s length from it. Now he has invoked executive privilege, and I find that astonishing,” Franks said. “If there is nothing to hide, why would he invoke executive privilege? I mean executive privilege only applies to the president. And so I’m astonished and dismayed and just kind of dumbfounded.”

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee last week approved a contempt resolution that the full House plans to consider this week.

Hours before the committee voted last Wednesday, President Obama invoked executive privilege to shield the disclosure of more than 100,000 Justice Department documents that Congress subpoenaed eight months ago – as part of its 16-month investigation into the botched gun-running scheme called Operation Fast and Furious.

Rep. Franks says he knows how he’ll vote on the contempt citation.

“I asked the attorney general direct questions, and I have previously called for the attorney general’s resignation,” Franks told “So, I believe the only principled vote I can make is to uphold the contempt charge.”

Operation Fast and Furious was a Justice Department program that began in September 2009 and allowed nearly 2,000 guns to flow into Mexico with the intent of tracking the guns to drug cartel leaders. The operation was halted when two of the guns in the operation were found at the murder scene of U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry.

The Justice Department has provided the House oversight committee with 7,600 pages of documents dealing with the gun-running operation. But the committee also wants to see internal documents that would help Congress understand who at the Justice Department should have known about the reckless gun-running tactics; how the department concluded that Operation Fast and Furious was fundamentally flawed; how the Justice Department dealt with whistleblowers; and the extent to which the Justice Department tried to conceal information from Congress.