Judicial Watch President: Holder Resigned Over Judge's Fast & Furious Ruling

By Barbara Hollingsworth | October 8, 2014 | 1:58 PM EDT

President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder announce Holder's resignation at the White House on Sept. 25, 2014. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

(CNSNews.com) – Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton says he has “no doubt” that a Sept. 23 federal court order requiring the Department of Justice (DOJ) to turn over an index of documents relating to the Fast and Furious scandal by October 22 prompted the resignation of Attorney General Eric Holder two days later.

“There’s no doubt the writing was on the wall between Fast and Furious and the IRS scandal circling around the Justice Department. He did not want to be a person of interest in Washington discussions when more information about Fast and Furious came out,” Fitton told CNSNews.com.

“And the Washington way is that [when] bad things happen, get out of Dodge and hope everyone forgets.”

But Fitton pointed out that the underlying issues exposed by what he called the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ “insanely reckless” gun tracking program that resulted in the 2010 death of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry and an estimated 300 Mexicans make that unlikely.

“This is a battle that puts Holder in contempt of Congress, first time an attorney general’s ever been put in contempt of Congress, saw Nixonian assertions of executive privilege by Barack Obama, and a hapless Congress in the face of all this lawlessness," he told CNSNews.com.

“If you were a private citizen and you allowed a gun to go ‘walk’ out of your home knowing, with the plan that it be used, with the idea and hope that it be used in a crime and show up at a crime scene, you’d be in jail. But in Washington you get lauded as a civil rights hero as you retire.”

“We know what really happened. It’s a question of who was involved specifically for the lies and exposing the lies…. If the Justice Department under Eric Holder had been operating properly, and there had been an independent criminal investigation going on, all this stuff would be grand jury material,” he said, adding: “I don’t know how this attorney general was able to remain in office.”

Fitton says he also has “no doubt” that the released documents will provide a “road map” to the botched  program.

On Sept. 23, U.S. District Judge John Bates ordered DOJ to provide Judicial Watch what is known as a Vaughn index of Fast and Furious documents the group requested two years ago under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) no later than October 22. “It is time for this case to move forward,” Bates wrote.

"A Vaughn index “must: (1) identify each document withheld; (2) state the statutory exemption claimed; and (3) explain how disclosure would damage the interests protected by the claimed exemption,” Fitton explained. “You often get the subject of the email, most of the dates, who they were sent to, who received them."

“We blew the lid off of the Black Panther scandal not because of the documents they necessarily gave us, but because of the descriptions of the withholdings," he continued.

"And that Vaughn index provided a road map into the decision-making process at the Justice Department and exposed the fact that they were lying when they said political people weren’t involved.”

“I have little doubt that the Vaughn index, if it’s proper, will provide the road map again for the cover-up on Fast and Furious,” he said. “The documents that are being fought over are about Fast and Furious generally, but more specifically, they’re over the failure to inform Congress in a timely way and to retract the false letter they had sent in February of 2011 about Fast and Furious.

“That’s the core basis of what happened and what the fight’s about. It’s about them lying to Congress,” Fitton told CNSNews.com, pointing out that Holder did not retract the letter until Dec. 2011, when DOJ finally acknowledged that Fast and Furious was “fundamentally flawed.”

In June 2012, the House voted 255-to-67 to hold Holder in contempt for refusing to release the same documents Judicial Watch is seeking.

“But Congress, which is also suing DOJ in an effort to get documents it needs to enforce a subpoena on Fast and Furious, could not even get a Vaughn list,” Fitton pointed out, even though “the privilege claims that the president is making are without precedent.”

Using FOIA to root out the truth is "not a perfect way of doing it, but given the fact that Congress has abdicated its oversight responsibilities in large measure, it’s a key tool available to the public to act as independent oversight,” Fitton said, adding that  "sometimes you wonder if the public interest component of these investigations and lawsuits are secondary” to the headlines they generate.

“Congress is writing checks with its eyes closed and that’s a deadly mix. That’s not self-governance," Fitton said. "And the way to get it back is to bring government back down to accountability."


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