The Justice Department announced on Friday that it will not prosecute Attorney General Eric Holder for contempt of Congress.
Holder heads the department.
Deputy Attorney General James Cole said in a letter to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) that Holder’s response to a congressional subpoena “does not constitute a crime” and that the department will not convene a grand jury.
The move by the DOJ was anticipated as it has been the practice of administration’s from both parties not to prosecute their administration officials who are placed in contempt.
In 2008, two senior White House officials under President George W. Bush were held in contempt of Congress for their refusal to turn over documents. The DOJ declined to prosecute them, instead forcing Congress to take direct action in federal court where it eventually won a verdict giving lawmakers access to the documents.
A similar course of action is expected to take place between the Holder and the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which is seeking internal DOJ documents regarding to the botched gun-tracking operation, Fast and Furious.
Cole’s announcement was in relation to a criminal contempt resolution that passed the House on Thursday. The committee’s next course of court action has been paved by a separate civil contempt resolution also passed on Thursday. Committee Republicans have been in discussion with the House General Counsel about how and when to bring their legal case.
(Source: The Hill)