A federal judge has declined a House committee’s bid to have Attorney General Eric Holder held in contempt of court — and perhaps even jailed — for failing to turn over documents related to the Justice Department’ s response to Operation Fast and Furious.
However, in a ruling Monday, U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson also denied Holder’s request for an indefinite stay of her prior order that the attorney general must turn over any “non-privileged” documents the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee subpoenaed as part of an investigation into the botched gunrunning investigation. The judge previously ruled that Holder must give the panel any documents that are not both predecisional and deliberative in nature.
Jackson called the House contempt motion “entirely unnecessary” and said it was evident that she was considering the government’s motion to lift her prior order. “Under those circumstances, the Court finds no basis to hold defendant in contempt,” she wrote.
But the judge also said she saw no reason to allow the Justice Department to withhold unprivileged documents until the case was complete. She ordered those records turned over to the committee by Nov. 3, along with a log of the records claimed to be privileged.
“Though the Court has the discretion to grant a stay in the interests of judicial economy and efficiency, pending appeal or otherwise, there is no pending appeal here and the Court has already ruled that defendant has no legal basis to withhold non-deliberative documents. The ‘possibility’ of an appeal and piecemeal litigation does not satisfy defendant’s burden to demonstrative a ‘clear case of hardship or inequity’ without a stay,” she wrote in her decision (posted here).
The contempt motion was “completely unnecessary.”
“the Court finds no basis to hold defendant in contempt,”
Of course not.
Amy Berman Jackson is an Obama nominee.
It was demanded that Holder produce the requested documents by October 1, but Holder requested that product date be reset to November 3, 2014.
November 3 is the day before the midterm elections. As in, too late to do any damage.