The “most transparent administration in history” was chewed out in federal court Thursday by a judge angry that the government is withholding documents relevant to a lawsuit involving the late Andrew Breitbart.
“You sit right down,” U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon told Justice Department lawyer David Glass during Thursday’s hearing in the defamation lawsuit that former Department of Agriculture of employee Shirley Sherrod filed against Breitbart in 2011. Glass had tried to argue that the documents requested by lawyers for both sides in the case were not relevant to the suit and even hinted that President Obama might claim executive privilege to keep the documents secret.
Despite Breitbart’s death in 2012, the court has permitted Sherrod’s lawsuit to proceed, with the New Media entrepreneur’s widow Susie Bretbart and Breitbart.com columnist Larry O’Connor as defendants. The cruel vindictiveness of Sherrod, suing the widowed mother of four children, has been described as something “out of the pages of Dickens,” especially because the prestigious law firm Kirkland & Ellis is representing the plaintiff pro bono. As I wrote last October:
The Left’s entitlement mentality — Shirley Sherrod seems to imagine she had a right to be employed by the federal government, and that Andrew Breitbart unjustly deprived her of that right — is at the root of this trend toward “lawfare” harassment.
The Obama administration’s stonewalling — refusing to provide documents related to the incident in which Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack fired Sherrod in 2010 — was the target of Judge Leon’s wrath Thursday, Josh Gerstein reports at Politico:
At the outset of Thursday’s hearing, Leon lit into Glass for filing a 21-page statement outlining the government’s position — a filing submitted electronically just after midnight Thursday along with a stack of nine exhibits. The judge called it “a self-serving pleading, not requested by anyone” and repeatedly suggested it was filed for “public relations” reasons rather than because it might be useful to the court. …
When the lawyer apologized for any offense, the judge shot back: “It’s not a question of being offended….I’m questioning your judgment….It appears you’re doing it for other reasons.”
“We are very frustrated by this discovery,” Glass said, complaining about subpoenas from both Sherrod and a defendant in the case, Breitbart employee Larry O’Connor. “We are fully prepared to move to quash all this discovery if it is not cut back substantially.” …
“The documents sought from us are completely irrelevant to this matter,” the DOJ lawyer said, expressing additional frustration that there were now signs the parties might seek deposition of figures like Vilsack. “The government has done nothing [connected] to this case, with the sole exception of offering Ms. Sherrod her job back,” Glass said.
Follow the logic: Breitbart published a video of Sherrod; the Obama administration fired Sherrod; the administration then offered Sherrod her job back; Sherrod declined that offer; instead of suing the administration that fired her, Sherrod sues Breitbart for publishing the video; and now the administration stonewalls requests for documents relevant to Sherrod’s firing.
It’s insane, but insanity is everywhere in the Obama Age.