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Judge rejects Obama's executive privilege claim over Fast and Furious records
The Justice Department's own public disclosures undercut the president's privilege claim, Judge Amy Berman Jackson ruled.
By Josh Gerstein
01/19/16 01:16 PM EST
A federal judge has rejected President Barack Obama's assertion of executive privilege to deny Congress access to records pertaining to Operation Fast and Furious, a gunrunning probe that allegedly allowed thousands of weapons to flow across the border into Mexico.
U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson ruled Tuesday that the Justice Department's public disclosures about its response to the so-called "gun walking" controversy undercut Obama's executive privilege claim.
"There is no need to balance the need against the impact that the revelation of any record could have on candor in future executive decision making, since any harm that might flow from the public revelation of the deliberations at issue here has already been self-inflicted," Jackson wrote. "The Department itself has already publicly revealed the sum and substance of the very material it is now seeking to withhold. Since any harm that would flow from the disclosures sought here would be merely incremental, the records must be produced."
Jackson said she wasn't questioning the propriety of Obama's claim of privilege, but ruling that the claim could not be sustained in view of other information the Justice Department had released on the topic, chiefly an Office of Inspector General report released in September 2012.
"This ruling is not predicated on a finding that the withholding was intended to cloak wrongdoing on the part of government officials or that the withholding itself was improper," the judge wrote.
Judge rejects Obama's executive privilege claim