White House stubbornness has forced the House to file suit against Eric Holder to force him to turn over documents related to the Fast and Furious investigation. Nancy Pelosi's claims that the lawsuit takes money away from growing the economy and enforcing voting laws is truly laughable. If the administration were truly interested in those noble goals, all it would have to do is turn over the documents. But perhaps forcing the House to spend money on lawyers to pursue these civil contempt charges is another failed Obama Administration effort at a stimulus program.
This inanity should not obscure the fact that there are important, conflicting issues here. Congress has every right, as part of its oversight powers, to find out who is responsible for the bizarre DOJ gun-running program that resulted in the death of a U.S. law enforcement official. The Justice Department should try to keep confidential any information that is directly related to sensitive law enforcement programs -- for example, we do not want to publicly reveal the names of drug cartel informants.
The usual way to resolve this conflict is for DOJ to show the documents to the committee staff in a closed meeting -- that is what often happened during the congressional investigations into the Clinton Whitewater scandals (in which I participated as general counsel to Senator Orrin Hatch).
It is extraordinary that the DOJ has dug in its heels so deeply that the House has to file a suit, rather than reach some negotiated compromise. That the DOJ won't provide the documents in a closed setting to Darrell Issa and his staff demonstrates that it is the Obama administration, rather than the House, that is really the one willing to risk a conflict between the branches in the midst of an election year. It is yet another self-inflicted wound for Attorney General Holder.