The House Oversight Committee will vote June 20 on whether to cite Attorney General Eric Holder for contempt of Congress.
Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), who has been leading the investigation into the administration’s handling of the Fast and Furious gun running operation into Mexico, issued a statement today charging Holder with withholding evidence.
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. The Justice Department’s actions have obstructed the investigation. Congress has an obligation to investigate unanswered questions about attempts to smear whistleblowers, failures by Justice Department officials to be truthful and candid with the congressional investigation, and the reasons for the significant delay in acknowledging reckless conduct in Operation Fast and Furious.
The House Republican leadership, which has appeared wary of charging Holder with contempt during an election year, now appears to have gotten behind Issa. Speaker Boehner issued a supportive statement and suggested he would bring the citation to the floor if the committee passes it.
Either the Justice Department turns over the information requested, or Congress will have no choice but to move forward with holding the Attorney General in contempt for obstructing an ongoing investigation.
Boehner has increasingly been showing backbone this year, threatening just a few weeks ago not to increase the debt ceiling without commensurate spending cuts.