House GOP Vote To Cite Attorney General Eric Holder In Contempt
A House committee voted Wednesday along party lines to cite Attorney General Eric Holder for contempt, capping a mounting and contentious fight between congressional Republicans and the Obama administration over a gun-running controversy in Mexico. The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee voted 23-17 to favorably report a contempt resolution against Holder to the full House, which could take up the resolution and vote to advance it.
Their vote followed a claim this morning by President Barack Obama, who invoked executive privilege Wednesday to withhold documents a House committee is seeking. Comments rapidly grew more heated throughout the day, culminating in the vote.
A spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner suggested administration officials had lied earlier or were now “bending the law,” while Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings said the committee’s GOP chairman “had no interest” in resolving the issue and was trying to pick a fight.
The likelihood of a contempt vote rose after Holder and Issa failed to reach agreement Tuesday in a 20-minute meeting at the Capitol. During the committee’s year-and-a-half-long investigation, the department has turned over 7,600 documents about the conduct of the Fast and Furious operation. However, because Justice initially told the committee falsely the operation did not use a risky investigative technique known as gun-walking, the panel has turned its attention from the details of the operation and is now seeking documents that would show how the department headquarters responded to the committee’s investigation.
In Fast and Furious, agents of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in Arizona abandoned the agency’s usual practice of intercepting all weapons they believed to be illicitly purchased. Instead, the goal of gun-walking was to track such weapons to high-level arms traffickers, who had long eluded prosecution, and to dismantle their networks.