Jun 20, 2012 No Comments ›› Pat Dollard
Excerpted from Poltico: The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee voted along party lines Wednesday to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress for refusing to comply with a subpoena in the “Fast and Furious” investigation, setting up a legal showdown with President Barack Obama in the middle of his tough reelection battle.
Just hours before the controversial vote, Holder asserted executive privilege over some of the documents sought by the House panel, which is chaired by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.).
But GOP lawmakers weren’t swayed, and they proceeded with the contempt vote despite bitter objections from the White House, Justice Department and Democratic lawmakers. Speaker John Boehner and other top Republicans went so far as to suggest the White House was using executive privilege to cover up its involvement in Fast and Furious.
Issa and his fellow GOP lawmakers on the Oversight panel defeated several Democratic amendments seeking to revise or water down the contempt resolution and its accompanying report. Republicans then pushed through the chairman’s measure, the gist of which was leaked weeks ago, on a 23-17 vote.
The Holder resolution is expected to reach the House floor next week, according to GOP leadership aides.
The Ticket: The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Wednesday voted to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress despite a last-minute intervention by President Obama.
By a vote of 23 to 17 after nearly six hours of tense discussion, the bipartisan committee voted for contempt over the Justice Department’s decision to withhold documents related to Operation Fast and Furious that were subpoenaed by the committee in their investigation of the failed gunwalking operation.
The votes were sharply divided along partisan lines with all Republicans voting for and all Democrats voting against contempt. The measure now moves to the full House for a vote, which Republicans say will be scheduled for next week.
Moments before the hearing, Holder, who was not present at the hearing, delivered a letter to committee chair Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) informing the committee that Obama exerted executive privilege to withhold the documents in question.
“Although we are deeply disappointed that the Committee appears intent on proceeding with a contempt vote, the Department remains willing to work with the Committee to reach a mutually satisfactory resolution of the outstanding issues,” Deputy Attorney General James Cole wrote in a letter to Issa.
But the president’s intervention did not stop Issa from proceeding with Wednesday’s vote.
“This untimely assertion by the Justice Department falls short of any reason to delay today’s proceedings,” Issa said prior to the vote.