House Oversight chair Darrell Issa will bring contempt charges against Attorney General Eric Holder up for a vote on the committee next week, reports Sharyl Attkisson of CBS News, a result of months-long frustrations over stonewalling and deception from the Department of Justice in the probe of Operation Fast and Furious. Issa is aiming at Wednesday, June 20th as the day for the vote:
CBS News has learned the House Oversight Committee will vote next week on whether to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress. It’s the fourth time in 30 years that Congress has launched a contempt action against an executive branch member.
This time, the dispute stems from Holder failing to turn over documents subpoenaed on October 12, 2011 in the Fast and Furious “gunwalking” investigation.
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.
The question will be whether Issa can get any of the Oversight Democrats to vote along with him. Some Democrats in Congress have grumbled about Holder and the pattern of obfuscation and stonewalling in this investigation. Hundreds of people in Mexico have died from the release of these weapons, after all, and at least two US law-enforcement officers have been killed with those weapons. More will undoubtedly follow on both sides of the border. That puts some pressure on Democrats to be seen as taking some kind of action, but a contempt charge may be too far for most of them, if not all.
Still, it’s difficult to see what other option Issa has at this point. Holder has made it clear that he won’t cooperate, and has taken to bald-faced lies in Congress. Last week’s insistence that an e-mail that discussed Fast and Furious didn’t actually refer to OF&F was the final straw for Holder’s credibility as a witness and as the nation’s top law-enforcement officer. The sheer absurdity of that performance might make it impossible for some Democrats to avoid a yes vote on a contempt charge — if not on the Oversight Committee, then on the House floor once the committee passes the resolution.