Attorney General

Justice Department agrees to turn over Fast and Furious documents if court vacates privilege rulings

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The U.S. Justice Department announced Wednesday that it has reached a conditional agreement to provide additional documents to a House committee regarding Operation Fast and Furious, the botched gun-running probe that allowed illegal firearms to be smuggled across the border.

The documents will be provided to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform if a federal court in Washington, D.C., vacates two prior privilege rulings in the case, according to the settlement agreement filed in the committee’s lawsuit.

The agreement would end six years of litigation, according to a DOJ press release. The committee had filed the suit to enforce a subpoena for the documents that was resisted by then-Attorney General Eric Holder. Courthouse News Service, Fox News and Reuters covered the announcement.

The agreement is contingent on the federal court vacating privilege rulings issued in January 2016 and August 2014. The case is on appeal and would have to be remanded before the court could act.

The January 2016 order had rejected the Obama administration’s claims of executive privilege in the case because much of the information was already made public in an inspector general’s report.

The August 2014 ruling said the administration can’t invoke a deliberative process privilege unless the material it seeks to shield is “predecisional” and deliberative.

Fast and Furious was the name given to the gun-running investigation led by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. ATF had allowed illegal firearms to be smuggled across the border with the intention of tracking them. But the agency lost track of more than 1,400 guns. Two of the guns were found at the site where a U.S. Border Patrol agent was killed.

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