by Jeremy Leaming
As expected the House of Representatives voted to find Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress for allegedly withholding documentation about the federal government’s troubled operations, dubbed “Fast and Furious,” to curb violence related to drug smuggling along parts of the nation’s Southwest border.
The charge to tar Holder has been led by U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), who spends large amounts of his time tending to his business holdings back home. Though the Department of Justice has provided nearly 8,000 documents to a House committee, Issa, one of Congress’s wealthiest members, has continued to claim there must be more, and that the government is covering up the bungled efforts, which started during the previous administration.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) was among nearly 100 House Democrats who walked out of the chamber in protest of today’s vote. Earlier this month, Pelosi blasted the Republicans’ hounding of Holder as rooted in their opposition to the Department of Justice’s efforts to ensure that new state restrictions on voting do not violate the Voting Rights Act.
“These very same people holding in contempt are part of a nationwide scheme to suppress the vote,” Pelosi said. “They are closely aligned with those who are suffocating the system, special interests, secret money, and they are poisoning the debate. They are poisoning the debate with money.” TPM has video of Pelosi’s comments here.
The New York Times in a June 21 piece noted the fairly obvious – that most recent attorneys general have faced partisan attacks.
Nonetheless, The Times conceded, “Holder has become a recurring target for conservative anger because he is associated with some the administration’s more liberal policies. They include reinvestigating Bush-era torture allegations, using the civilian criminal justice system for terrorism cases, refusing to defend the law banning federal recognition of same-sex marriage, challenging Arizona’s crackdown on illegal immigrants and invoking civil rights laws to block voter ID measures.”
Following today’s House action, Holder shot back, saying that the vote “may make for good political theater in the minds of some, but it is – at base – both a crass effort and a grave disservice to the American people. They expect – and deserve – far better.
“As a result of the action taken today by the House, an unnecessary court conflict will ensue,” Holder continued. “My efforts to resolve this matter short of such a battle were rebuffed by Congressman Issa and his supporters. It’s clear that they were not interested in bringing an end to this dispute or obtaining the information they claimed to seek. Ultimately, their goal was the vote that – with the help of special interests – they have now engineered.”
Holder concluded by urging the lawmakers to drop the theatrics and get back to work.