In a 44-page ruling, U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson turned aside Obama administration assertions executive privilege shielded them from having to turn over internal communications about the discredited scheme, Politico reported Tuesday.
"This case presents the sort of question that the courts are traditionally called upon to resolve," the judge said Monday night. "Dismissing the case without hearing it would in effect place the court's finger on the scale, designating the executive as the victor based solely on his untested assertion that the privilege applies."
The lawsuit was filed by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which was investigating the operation in which the Justice Department allowed up to 2,000 weapons to be sold to drug traffickers in hopes of tracking criminal activity. The guns showed up at a number of crime scenes and were used in the slaying of a U.S. Border Patrol agent.
Jackson's ruling did not touch on the question of whether President Obama had the authority to assert privilege over the documents, which neither he nor his advisers had ever seen.
The Justice Department argued before the court five months ago that if Jackson got involved, all disagreements about executive privilege would end up in the courts.
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