Republican lawmakers leading a congressional investigation into Operation Fast and Furious have filed a lawsuit in federal court urging a judge to compel the Justice Department to turn over documents related to the botched gun-running probe.
In the lawsuit, lawyers representing House Republicans said Attorney General Eric Holder’s “intransigency” and “contumacious refusal” to comply with a House subpoena have prevented congressional investigators from determining whether the Justice Department intentionally tried to obstruct their investigation.
After President Obama asserted executive privilege over the documents nearly two months ago, the full House, mostly along party lines, held Holder in criminal and civil contempt of Congress. But with a Holder ally as the gatekeeper to criminal proceedings in Washington, the criminal contempt citation was virtually dead on arrival. So now Republicans are hoping a judge will enforce the civil contempt citation.
The documents at the center of Monday’s lawsuit are mostly composed of internal Justice Department emails after Feb. 4, 2011, when department officials realized they would have to retract a letter to Congress that denied Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agents ever let guns fall into the hands of suspected criminals.