OTR Interviews

Issa on House lawsuit on Fast and Furious: You can't lie to Congress and then cover it up with executive privilege

House Republicans investigating Operation 'Fast & Furious' file lawsuit urging Justice Department to release documents

 

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," August 13, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Fast and Furious just got faster and more furious. Just over a month ago the House held Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt. But today it got revved up even more, the House Oversight Committee Filing a civil suit against Attorney General Holder. Lawmakers are asking a federal court to step in and force the Justice Department to turn over documents in the botched gun running operation. House Oversight Chair Darrell Issa joins us. Good evening, sir.

REP. DARRELL ISSA, HOUSE OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: Good evening, Greta. How are things this in Washington?

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, I don't know. I'm in Wisconsin. I can only report how they are here in Wisconsin, and it's beautiful weather here.

ISSA: What would take you to Wisconsin this time of year? Was there some great event that we're all happy about?

VAN SUSTEREN: I don't know. You have to watch the show. It's not my high school reunion. I had that one six weeks ago.

ISSA: Just kidding.

VAN SUSTEREN: Now to your story. What is this? You have filed but still haven't gotten the documents. Is there any discussion in the house contempt or the filings done, you haven't had anything from the government?

ISSA: Not at all. Attorney general is good as his word he was going to give us a couple hundred more documents if we agreed to close the indication. He wouldn't let us see them before. We agreed to take them. If we didn't take it there would be nothing, and there has been nothing. We, of course, waited to see if the U.S. attorney would do his job. He didn't. Regrettably we had to follow the alternate course and we have filed.

VAN SUSTEREN: Now I've done the mathematics in my head of filing deadlines and knowing a little a bit about dockets in D.C. It looks like this won't be resolved before Election Day. Is that is what your lawyers have indicated to you?

ISSA: That is correct, Greta. This has never been about an election year. This started within days of being my being sworn in in 2010. It started in 2010 and all through 2011 and now through 2012 we have pursued this from the time I became chairman on behalf of Senator Grassley. So it just happens that there is an election coming up. But an investigation in which you are stonewalled for nearly two years is inevitably going to have an intervening period.

VAN SUSTEREN: I have a suggestion, free legal advice, it does have political ramifications. Some would say Obama administration is hiding documents, and it's good to keep them hung out to dry before the election. They have to deal with it politically. In light of that, in light of Brian Terry family should get answers, why don't you request expedited consideration by the judge and Justice Department can join in and get a filing from the Justice Department answering yours and judge has to decide this case. There is no reason to take more than a month. That way it won't be involved in a political aspect and terry family gets an answer?

ISSA: We have been assigned a judge. We believe she is fair. She is an Obama appointee, but she has a good record in court. Our home is we will get expedited consideration because the terry family has waited through this investigation for over 18 months.

VAN SUSTEREN: I can tell you they are no hurry unless you ask for it.

ISSA: We will be using every attempt to get discovery. I will take your free legal advice.

VAN SUSTEREN: You don't need discovery. You don't need discovery. The government, Eric Holder has not turned over because he is protected by the executive privilege. Either the executive privilege protects it or not. You don't need discovery. You just need a judge to make a decision. The government agree agrees and it gets decided quickly?

ISSA: Greta, you are exactly right. But in our filing, we make it very clear there is no stated executive privileges. As you know, they simply stonewalled us and said we have given you things. We'll give you more as long as you go away. Candidly, executive privilege was a tactic in the final hours as we were voting contempt. There was never any question that they are trying to create this new deliberative privilege.

But let's understand something, Greta. This is the important thing. They lied to congress. They then covered it up for ten months and that is what they are claiming privilege. Much of what we're asking for is who lied to us, who produced the documents behind the scenes and did they know or didn't they know they were providing it. That is simple standard. And it's the Nixon standard. Are you entitled to cover up your own wrongdoing?

VAN SUSTEREN: A judge gets to make that call whether you are right or the Eric Holder was, and we'd like to get it faster and get it behind us. I will take the last word on that.

ISSA: We would, too. We would, too. The fact is though that Nixon decided this a generation ago. You can't commit crimes including lying to Congress and then cover it up and expect it to be covered by executive privilege. Thank you, Greta.

VAN SUSTEREN: I've got to go. Congressman, thank you, sir.

ISSA: Thank you.