Critics are drawing a connection between a federal judge’s recent decision to deny the Justice Department’s request to delay the release of a list of Fast and Furious documents and Attorney General Eric Holder’s impending resignation.
U.S. District Court Judge John D. Bates ruled against the DOJ Thursday, denying a request to delay the release of a list of Fast and Furious documents known as a “Vaughn index.” The information has been withheld from Congress and the public under President Barack Obama’s assertion of executive privilege.
Later on Thursday, it was reported that Holder intends to step down as attorney general after his successor is selected.
Townhall’s Katie Pavlich, who wrote a book about the Fast and Furious gun-walking scandal, sarcastically called the two announcements a “coincidence” on Thursday.
How convenient! Eric Holder resigns just after judge order release of Fast and Furious document list http://t.co/NIZH60wsOS
— Katie Pavlich (@KatiePavlich) September 25, 2014
The conservative blog Weasel Zippers also made the connection and asked in a headline: “The Reason for Eric Holder’s Resignation?”
U.S. District Court Judge John D. Bates ultimately ruled that the “government’s argument for even more time is unconvincing” and gave the Obama administration 21 more days to produce the Vaughn index to Judicial Watch.
Many users on Twitter seemed convinced the judge’s Fast and Furious ruling could be behind the resignation:
Eric Holder resigning after a court ordered release of the Fast and Furious documents? How coincidental. Next up is a pardon from Obama
— Matt Stritof (@mstritof) September 25, 2014
Sep 25 Judge Denied Eric Holder Request to Delay Release Fast and Furious Documents, so he quits http://t.co/4VrgAYq81v
— Pat Johnson (@_PatJohnson_) September 25, 2014
Is this why Eric Holder is resigning? Judge Denies DOJ Request to Delay Release of Fast and Furious Document List: http://t.co/drnMhrMi17
— Wintery Knight (@Wintery_Knight) September 25, 2014
US AG Eric Holder to resign – ahead of new revelations about Fast and Furious no doubt. http://t.co/uex29TsMXu
— The Truth About Guns (@guntruth) September 25, 2014
Eric Holder resigns as attorney general: reports http://t.co/FSVfrniGFA probably Fast and Furious records pursuing him, should be in jail
— PAPhotog (@paphotog) September 25, 2014
Judicial Watch has more details on the fight to obtain the Fast and Furious Vaughn index:
On July 18, [U.S. District Court Judge John D. Bates] ordered the Department of Justice to produce the documents list by October 1. The ruling by U.S. District Court Judge John D. Bates denied a motion by the Obama DOJ that it be given until over an extra month, until November 3, to produce the Vaughn index. Judge Bates noted that the Justice Department’s request showed the Justice Department was, “at best, it means the Department has been slow to react to this Court’s previous [July 18, 2014] Order. At worst, it means the Department has ignored that Order until now.”
In its FOIA lawsuit, Judicial Watch sought all of the documents the Obama White House was withholding from the House of Representatives under its June 20, 2012, executive privilege claims. The House had been separately litigating to obtain the documents but had gotten nowhere until after Judge Bates ruled that the DOJ finally had to disclose the document information to Judicial Watch. On September 9, U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson, citing Judicial Watch’s success, ordered the DOJ to begin producing information to Congress by November 3.
In denying the DOJ’s motion for an extension until the day before the November elections, Bates ruled, “The government’s argument for even more time is unconvincing,” and granted the government just 21 additional days to produce the Vaughn index to Judicial Watch.
Whether there is anything damning enough in the Fast and Furious Vaughn index to force a sitting U.S. attorney general to resign remains to be seen.