Breaking: House Panel Votes to Hold Attorney General in Contempt (UPDATED)
An eye-opening account of the real Fast and Furious scandal
“A Fortune investigation reveals that the ATF never intentionally allowed guns to fall into the hands of Mexican drug cartels. How the world came to believe just the opposite is a tale of rivalry, murder, and political bloodlust.”
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The Hill reports that House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) predicted today, Sunday, that Republicans and Democrats would vote to find Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress this week.
“I believe they will, both Republicans and Democrats will vote that,” Issa said on Fox News Sunday. “There are a number of Democrats, 31, who wrote to the administration asking them to be forthcoming. Many of them will stay with us now that the administration has not been.”
It should be noted that no Democrats on his committee voted with Republicans to hold Holder in contempt.
Holder still claims that the contempt charge could be avoided if Obama and Holder “would simply start producing the documents they know they could produce to us that are not by any means going to be covered by executive privilege…”
Additionally, according to the Hill, Issa said in a separate interview on ABC that “If those documents say what Eric Holder says they say, we might, in fact, dismiss contempt in — in either case,” and Issa conceded that he does not have evidence White House officials had prior knowledge of a cover-up of mistakes in the Fast and Furious gun-tracking program, contradicting Boehner’s statement that “The decision to invoke executive privilege is an admission that White House officials were involved in decisions that mislead the Congress and have covered-up the truth”.
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The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has now voted — along party lines — 23 to 17 to hold Attorney General Eric H. Holder in contempt for failing to share documents related to the operation. The move makes Holder the first member of Obama’s Cabinet held in contempt by a congressional committee and comes just hours after President Obama asserted executive privilege over related documents.
According to the Washington Post, “The panel’s actions will be reported to the full House, where Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) and GOP leaders are expected to schedule a floor vote soon. If passed by the full House, the matter would then move to the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, Ronald C. Machen Jr., who is an employee of the Justice Department.”
White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer accused Republicans Wednesday of orchestrating a “taxpayer-funded election-year fishing expedition.”
“Given the economic challenges facing the country,” Pfeiffer said in a statement, “we believe that House Republicans should work with the rest of Congress and the president to create more jobs, not more political theater.”
Executive privilege has been invoked throughout U.S. history by presidential administrations to preserve the confidentiality of information in the face of legislative inquiries.
The privilege is qualified, not absolute, and can be overturned in courts. But disputes over access to information rarely reach the courts and are most often resolved through political negotiations, according to the Congressional Research Service.
During the Committee’s debate, Committee Democrats were very critical of Issa’s decision to move forward with the contempt charges, including calling the hearing “a kangaroo court” and denouncing personal attacks on the President and on the Attorney General.
“We’ve been holding the attorney general to an impossible standard,” said Rep. Elijah Cummings, the ranking Democrat, and added:
You accused him of a ‘cover-up’ for protecting documents he was prohibited by law from producing. You claimed that he ‘obstructed’ the committee’s work by complying with federal statutes passed by both houses of Congress and signed by the president …And earlier this month, you went on national television and called the attorney general — our nation’s chief law enforcement officer — a liar.
Republicans on the Committee claim that the investigation is a legitimate and serious issue, an investigation the committee is charged to perform.
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