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With the formation of the House Select Committee on Benghazi, I predict that there will be a constitutional collision between the Obama administration and Congress — one that the executive will eventually win.
Obama’s aides will refuse to testify on sensitive matters involving the facts of the 2012 attacks on the U.S. consulate, which killed the U.S. ambassador to Libya and several other U.S. officials. While some of the information might be protected by executive privilege, most of it isn’t. But even if Congress holds the witnesses in contempt, there is little doubt that Attorney General Eric Holder — who himself has already been held in contempt of Congress — will order prosecutors to refuse to enforce the legislative branch’s judgment in federal court.
This administration, after all, has systematically refused to enforce federal laws to suit its own political agenda — in contrast to the few occasions in the past where presidents have questioned federal law for constitutional reasons. Unless Congress uses its own inherent power to enforce contempt, to which it has not turned in many years, the Obama administration may be able to run out the clock on Benghazi, waiting for the next presidential election.
If you’re interested in a more thorough analysis of the dynamic at work here, you can read this piece I recently wrote for the Library of Law and Liberty.