A defiant Attorney General Eric Holder lashed out at House Republicans over a contempt of Congress citation from the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, calling the 23-17 party-line vote “an extraordinary, unprecedented and entirely unnecessary action, intended to provoke an avoidable conflict between Congress and the Executive Branch.”
Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, angry over Holder’s refusal to turn over requested documents on the Justice Department‘s failed “Fast and Furious” gun-running scheme and President Barack Obama’s use of executive privilege to seal the documents, forced the vote.
Said Holder in a statement released by his office:
This divisive action does not help us fix the problems that led to this operation or previous ones and it does nothing to make any of our law enforcement agents safer. It’s an election-year tactic intended to distract attention — and, as a result — has deflected critical resources from fulfilling what remains my top priority at the Department of Justice: Protecting the American people.
“Fast and Furious” was supposed to help Holder’s department track the flow of guns from the United States to drug cartels in Mexico but most of the arms went missing and two ended up at the crime scene where Customs and Border Control agent Brian Terry was murdered.
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.
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.
Repbublicans contend Holder lied to the committee and has withheld evidence. House Speaker John Boehner said Wednesday the full house will vote on the contempt citation next week “unless the Attorney General re-evaluates his choices.:
Holder’s response: Not in their lifetime.