Transcript: Sensenbrenner speaks on House Floor on Congressional Oversight
Jun 28, 2012 -
Mr. speaker, this isn't about politics. This is about the constitution. And it's about Congress' mandate to do oversight -- mandate to do oversight over both executive and judicial branches of government. The President is asserting executive privilege to attempt to shield these documents. And he is relying on a type of privilege called the deliberative process privilege.
However, that privilege disappears when congress' investigating evidence of wrongdoing. and in 1997 the u.s. court of appeals for the District of Columbia circuit wrote in part, moreover, the privilege disappears altogether when there is any reason to believe that government misconduct has occurred. in another case, it was decided by the First Circuit in 1995, it says that the grounds that shielding internal government deliberations in this context does not serve the public interest in honest, effective government.
There has been misconduct that's already a matter of public record in two instances.
The Justice Department wrote senator Grassley in January of 2011 saying that the ATF sanction gun-walking across the border was false and it took them nine months to retract that letter. So they also misled congress, and then nine months later they said, oops.
Maybe he with did mislead congress and we'll withdraw the letter. And in May, 2011, the Attorney General testified before the Judiciary Committee that he first heard of operation Fast and Furious a few weeks before the hearing. Over six months later, he conceded that he should have said a few months.
Now, this very clearly shows that Congress has got the proliferation to get to the bottom of this, and that the assertion of the executive privilege by the President and the Attorney General is not based in law. We ought to go ahead and do our job and do our oversight, and it's too bad that the Justice Department has decided to try to obstruct Congress' ability to do it. Pass the resolution.