A House panel voted Wednesday to place Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress for his failure to comply with a subpoena, defying an assertion of executive privilege from President Obama.
The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, led by Republican Chairman Darrell Issa (Calif.), approved a resolution along party lines to place Holder in contempt after battling him for months over access to internal agency documents about the gun-tracking operation known as “Fast and Furious.”
The vote came after Obama escalated the conflict by sending a letter to the committee claiming executive privilege over the documents the panel had sought. All 23 Republicans on the committee voted for the contempt resolution, while all 17 Democrats voted against it. Every member of the panel was present for the vote.
Minutes after the panel’s decision, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) announced that the full House will vote on the contempt measure next week.
“While we had hoped it would not come to this, unless the attorney general reevaluates his choice and supplies the promised documents, the House will vote to hold him in contempt next week,” the Republican leaders said in a statement. “If, however, Attorney General Holder produces these documents prior to the scheduled vote, we will give the Oversight Committee an opportunity to review in hopes of resolving this issue.”
Holder blasted Issa in a statement following the vote while touting the efforts the DOJ has made to try and meet the chairman’s demands.
“From the beginning, Chairman Issa and certain members of the committee have made unsubstantiated allegations first, then scrambled for facts to try to justify them later,” said Holder.
“That might make for good political theater, but it does little to uncover the truth or address the problems associated with this operation and prior ones dating back to the previous administration.”
Obama’s move to bring the Fast and Furious documents under executive privilege came just minutes before the panel began the contempt proceedings. In the letter announcing Obama’s decision, Deputy Attorney General James Cole argued DOJ has made “extraordinary efforts to accommodate the committee’s legitimate oversight interests.”
(Source: The Hill)