Attorneys for the Department of Justice and the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee told U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson that they have begun settlement talks on the lawsuit that seeks to force Attorney General Eric Holder to produce documents related to Operation Fast and Furious. Both sides said the talks had just begun and that neither side could say whether they would make any progress or not.
Holder was held in contempt of Congress in June for not providing the subpoenaed documents and the Republicans in the House sued him in August to enforce the subpoena. Barack Obama invoked executive privilege in order to stop the documents from being released to the House Oversight Committee.
While court papers document that the DOJ claims the Constitution does not permit the courts to resolve political disputes between the executive branch and the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, it does state there is a long history of resolving disputes like the current one without judicial intervention. No citations were provided of course.
On Tuesday, Holder said “I think there is a deal that can be struck” regarding the documents subpoenaed by the Committee. Of course if no deal is reached Holder said “we’ll continue to litigate the case.”
“We are prepared as we indicated many months ago to try to strike a deal to come up with a way which we could try to satisfy the legitimate oversight request that Congress has made understanding that there is the need for a privilege, the ability for us in the executive branch to speak candidly with one another,” he said.
House Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) was unavailable for comment.
Judge Jackson has scheduled a hearing for January 10, 2013 to see where the settlement talks are at that point in time.