CBS News: House committee schedules contempt vote against Holder
by Chad D. Baus
CBS News is reporting that the House Oversight Committee will vote next week on whether to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress. According to the report, it's the fourth time in 30 years that Congress has launched a contempt action against an executive branch member. This time, the move stems from Holder failing to turn over documents subpoenaed on October 12, 2011 in the Fast and Furious "gunwalking" investigation.
From the article:
The Justice Department has maintained it has cooperated fully with the congressional investigation, turning over tens of thousands of documents and having Holder testify to Congress on the topic at least eight times.
However, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., says the Justice Department has refused to turn over tens of thousands of pages of documents. Those include materials created after Feb. 4, 2011, when the Justice Department wrote a letter to Congress saying no gunwalking had occurred. The Justice Department later retracted the denial.
"The Obama Administration has not asserted Executive Privilege or any other valid privilege over these materials and it is unacceptable that the Department of Justice refuses to produce them. These documents pertain to Operation Fast and Furious, the claims of whistleblowers, and why it took the Department nearly a year to retract false denials of reckless tactics," Issa wrote in an announcement of the vote to be released shortly. It will reveal the vote is scheduled for Wednesday, June 20.
Issa says the Justice Department can still put a stop to the contempt process at any time by turning over the subpoenaed documents.
If the House Oversight Committee approves the contempt citation, the matter would likely be scheduled for a full House vote.
The article goes on to say that for several weeks there have been closed-door discussions and debate among House Republicans as to whether to move forward with contempt. Some have reportedly expressed concern that the investigation into an operation that led to the deaths of hundreds of people could distract from the Republican's focus on the economy in this election year. Fortunately, sanity prevailed and the investigation will move forward.
Led by Republicans Senator Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, and Issa, Congress' investigation into Fast and Furious is now in its second year. In the ATF operation, agents allowed thousands of weapons to "walk" into the hands of Mexican drug cartels in the hope it would somehow help ATF take down a major cartel. Some of the weapons were used in the murder of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry at the hands of illegal immigrants crossing into Arizona. Mexican press reports say hundreds of Mexicans have died at the hands of the trafficked weapons. The story was exposed nationally for the first time by CBS News in February 2011.
Holder has participated in a number of hearings on Capitol Hill during the investigation. At one point, he told the committee that he had only learned about the operation "in the last few weeks" - only to have it pointed out that his own website disproved the claim. Soon thereafter, videotape surfaced, which had been recorded months earlier, showing President Obama assuring CNN Espanol that Holder had "been very clear that he knew nothing about this," and that an investigator had already been assigned - all this before Holder testified he was even aware of it. Holder's missteps have continued. Just last week, he testified that emails using the words 'Fast and Furious' don't refer to Operation Fast and Furious.
Republicans should forget about concerns that this would be a "distraction." This is undoubtedly Barack Obama's bloodiest scandal, and it deserves the full attention of Congress and the American people.
Chad D. Baus is the Buckeye Firearms Association Vice Chairman.
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