'Fast and Furious' probe: Obama's Watergate, or a waste of time? (+video)
The political fight over 'Fast and Furious' has escalated dramatically. Republicans say it could be as serious as the Watergate break-in 40 years ago that brought down Richard Nixon. Democrats call it a politically motivated fishing expedition designed to embarrass Obama.
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Republicans suspect that the documents the White House is withholding show that administration higher-ups knew what was happening all along. That’s where some draw parallels with Watergate.Skip to next paragraph
Peter Grier is The Christian Science Monitor's Washington editor. In this capacity, he helps direct coverage for the paper on most news events in the nation's capital.
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Rep. Steve King (R) of Iowa, in a Wednesday appearance on Sean Hannity’s Fox News show, noted that the original Watergate break-in occurred 40 years ago this week. Eventually, President Nixon asserted executive privilege in a (failed) attempt to prevent the White House tapes from becoming public.
“The president has mirrored that now,” said Representative King. “That means that implies very strongly ... that this information that Darrell Issa is searching for and trying to subpoena links inside the White House itself, most likely that the information was prepared for the president’s eyes and perhaps it was seen by the president.”
The administration, for its part, replies that it has made available to Issa’s committee virtually all documents dealing with “Fast and Furious” per se. What Issa wants now, according to White House spokesman Carney, are “after the fact documents” that don’t bear on the failed sting operation itself.
Mr. Holder has offered to share much of the information in those after-the-fact papers with the committee, say Democrats. Yet Issa turned that offer down – meaning he’s not really after facts, in the Democratic view.
“Instead of creating jobs or helping the middle class, congressional Republicans are focused on this politically motivated, taxpayer-funded, election-year fishing expedition,” said Carney at his Thursday briefing.
For their part, Republicans complain that Holder’s sharing offer rested on the assumption that the administration would get to pick the documents and information shared, and that in return the House would have to drop contempt proceedings against Holder.
“This is not hardly a rational basis for negotiation,” said Speaker Boehner on Thursday at his weekly press conference.
Then House minority leader Nancy Pelosi doubled down on Democrats' criticism of the House process, saying on Thursday that the real aim of the GOP’s “Fast and Furious” investigation is to get rid of an attorney general who has fought state efforts to introduce more stringent identification requirements for voters. Democrats have long charged that such requirements are actually attempts to keep their supporters away from the polls.
“These very same people who are holding him in contempt are part of a nationwide scheme to suppress the vote,” charged Representative Pelosi.