The imminent threat of actually being found in contempt of Congress has finally spurred Attorney General Eric Holder to some sort of definite action in the continuing investigation over his level of involvement in the deadly, not-botched gunwalking operation known as Fast and Furious.
Given that the Oversight Committee is composed of 22 Republicans and 16 Democrats, and that Holder “invented a privilege that doesn’t exist” in willfully neglecting to comply with last October’s Congressional subpoena of over 140,000 F&F-related documents, the Holder contempt-vote going forward is a very real possibility. Looking to postpone that pending calamity to his career, Holder last week offered to meet with Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa and cough up a certain selection of the Fast and Furious-related documents that Congress subpoenaed last October. The potentially fateful meeting is currently supposed to take place at 5 p.m. this afternoon:
Holder, in a letter to Issa delivered Monday, said the Justice Department “has offered a serious, good faith proposal to bring this matter to an amicable resolution in the form of a briefing based on documents that the committee could retain.”
Until now, Issa, the chairman of House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, has demanded to see a trove of documents on the controversial Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives operation — and to know who prepared a now-retracted letter from Feb. 4, 2011, in which the Justice Department claimed the U.S. did not knowingly help smuggle guns to Mexico, including those later found at the murder scene of border agent Brian Terry
Congressional Republicans familiar with the investigation say Issa is under pressure from House Speaker John Boehner to drop the Fast and Furious investigation because Boehner sees it as an election-year distraction that could hurt Republicans at the polls. …
However, late Monday, Issa wrote Holder back with a strategy of his own. Not only must Holder deliver the roughly 1,300 documents pertaining to the Feb. 4 letter, but he must also produce a description of all the documents he will not produce. Issa says that document log is “essential for the committee to determine whether the department has substantially met its obligations.”
I’d guess that Issa is probably chomping at the bit to vote to bring a contempt citation to the House floor, but is reluctantly agreeing to try to work with Holder in order to placate the GOP leadership — and it might actually be worse if a contempt vote does reach the House floor and fails to get through, or if Boehner won’t allow the vote at all. Perhaps Issa really does have some hope that these 1,300 documents will bear fruit, but I can’t help feeling like Holder is just stalling here. Honestly, what are you working so hard to hide?
I realize the GOP is worried about how an ostensible “witch hunt” might look to the electorate, but I am sincerely hoping they won’t sacrifice accountability for the sake of politics.