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- 06-11-2012, 12:03 PM #1
House committee schedules contempt vote against Attorney General Eric Holder
House committee schedules contempt vote against Attorney General Eric Holder
The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is scheduled to to vote next week on holding Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. in contempt of Congress for refusing to provide information tied to an ongoing investigation into the Justice Department’s “Fast and Furious” gunwalking investigation. In a statement, Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said Holder “has failed to meet his legal obligations” by failing to provide documents and other information requested in a congressional subpoena issued last October as part of his committee’s investigation into the scandal.
“If the Attorney General decides to produce these subpoenaed documents, I am confident we can reach agreement on other materials and render the process of contempt unnecessary,” Issa said.
The move was first reported by CBS News, which noted that the contempt vote would be just the fourth time in the past three decades that Congress has launched contempt action against an Executive Branch official.
Issa’s decision to hold a vote comes after Holder clashed last week with Republican lawmakers at a contentious hearing over the Justice Department’s voter ID laws and his handling of the botched “Fast and Furious” investigation, in which federal agents allowed suspected arms traffickers to buy more than 2,000 guns so they could track them to a Mexican drug cartel.
During the hearing, Issa slammed onto the dais court-sealed wiretap applications in the case, which he said he had received from whistleblowers. He claimed that they showed that senior Justice Department officials learned about the operation earlier than they had acknowledged.
“Have you and your attorneys produced internally the materials responsive to the subpoenas?” Issa asked.
“We believe that we have responded to the subpoenas,” Holder replied.
“No, Mr. Attorney General, you’re not a good witness!” Issa shouted. “A good witness answers the question asked.”
One by one, Republicans hammered Holder, and Democratic members of Congress came to his defense. The attorney general, who has appeared before Congress eight times in the past year, pushed back several times. When Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) insisted that an e-mail written by a deputy assistant attorney general referred to the “gun walking” tactics used in Fast and Furious, Holder maintained it did not.
“I have superior knowledge,” Holder shot back.
Issa has threatened for months to hold Holder in contempt of Congress if Justice officials do not turn over more documents tied to the scandal. During the hearing, Holder insisted that his department is cooperating with Issa’s committee.
“We’ve produced 7,600,” Holder started to say, referring to the pages that Justice officials have turned over to Issa’s committee.
But Issa angrily interrupted him. “Look, I don’t want to hear about the 7,600,” he said.
Last week, Justice Department spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler said that Issa “continues to distort the facts” and that senior department officials “were not aware of the flawed tactics in Fast and Furious until they became public in early 2011.” Schmaler also said that court-sealed wiretap applications in an ongoing criminal case were illegally leaked to Issa’s committee and Justice officials could not discuss them.
In the broader House, Republican leaders co-signed a letter with Issa to President Obama asking that the Justice Department comply with the congressional subpoena. The letter was seen as the first step before the committee’s contempt vote and a possible vote by the full House.
In a statement, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said Monday that “Congress can no longer wait. Assuming Attorney General Holder continues to stonewall, we will have no choice but to hold him in contempt for his failure to provide the documents necessary to prevent a tragedy like this from happening again.”
Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), who initiated congressional investigations into the scandal, said Monday that next week’s contempt vote “is straightforward and necessary.”
“Contempt is the only tool Congress has to enforce a subpoena,” Grassley said in a statement. “The Department of Justice can avoid the action by complying with its legal obligation. It’s not about personalities. It’s a procedural mechanism in our system of checks and balances. If Congress is afraid to pursue answers to questions, it’s not doing its job.”
House committee schedules contempt vote against Attorney General Eric Holder - 2chambers - The Washington Post
- 06-11-2012, 01:39 PM #2
Just exactly what will a "Contempt of Congress" achieve? If it doesn't lead to either the ouster of Holder or the release of ALL the requested documents, it is just all bluff and blunder....I call on you in the name of Liberty, of patriotism & everything dear to the American character, to come to our aid...
William Barret Travis
Letter From The Alamo Feb 24, 1836
- 06-11-2012, 01:44 PM #3
House moving to hold Holder in contempt
By Stephen Dinan
The Washington Times
Updated: 12:52 p.m. on Monday, June 11, 2012
The House of Representatives is moving forward with proceedings to hold Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. in contempt of Congress — a major escalation in the separation-of-powers battle over “Fast and Furious,” the Obama administration’s botched gun-walking operation.
Rep. Darrell E. Issa, California Republican and chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said his panel will take up the contempt issue next week, and the move has the blessing of House Speaker John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican.
“The Justice Department is out of excuses,” Mr. Boehner said in a statement Monday morning. “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.”
Both Mr. Holder and President Obama have acknowledged the operation — which allowed guns to be sold to straw purchasers in the U.S. with the knowledge they were being sent across the border to Mexican cartels — was wrong. But they said the operation was handled entirely by Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives employees, with little oversight at the Justice Department.
Mr. Issa, though, is investigating who in the Justice Department knew of the operation’s tactics. He has obtained sealed affidavits supporting wiretaps that he says indicate top Justice officials knew the tactics.
His committee issued a subpoena for documents in October, and Mr. Issa said Monday that the Justice Department still is withholding information in violation of that.
“Specifically, the Justice Department has refused to turn over critical documents on the grounds that they show internal Department deliberations and were created after February 4, 2011 — the date Justice issued a false denial to Congress. Contempt will focus on the failure to provide these post February 4th documents,” Mr. Issa said.
Mr. Issa said the Justice Department hasn’t asserted any valid reasons to withhold information.
The Justice Department didn’t return a request for comment Monday morning.
Last week, Mr. Holder told another House panel he would be willing to sit down with Mr. Boehner, Mr. Issa and other House Republican leaders to try to work out a solution.
Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, ranking Democrat on the oversight committee, defended Mr. Holder, saying federal law prevents him from turning over some of the documents the GOP is seeking. But he said he sees a possible middle ground.
“I am guardedly optimistic that a path forward exists that will serve the legitimate interests of the committee in conducting rigorous oversight, protect the legitimate interests of the department in its ongoing investigations and prosecutions, and avoid the needless politicization of this very serious issue,” he said.
This would be the first time the Obama administration has faced contempt of Congress proceedings.
House Democrats approved a contempt resolution against former White House adviser Karl Rove in 2008, seeking an interview with him on his role in the firing of U.S. attorneys. Mr. Rove refused an on-the-record sworn interview with congressional investigators.
The House voted 223-32 to hold him in contempt, with most Republicans boycotting the vote.
In 2009, after President George W. Bush left office, Democrats and former Bush officials reached an agreement to produce documents and on-the-record testimony.
House moving to hold Holder in contempt - Washington Times
- 06-11-2012, 04:00 PM #4The price good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men. Plato
- 06-11-2012, 10:22 PM #5
Issa Says Holder Contempt Charge Can Be Avoided if He’ll Produce Fast and Furious Documents
By Fred Lucas
June 11, 2012
(CNSNews.com) – Both Republicans and Democrats in the House said they hope to avert a contempt of Congress charge against Attorney General Eric Holder for failing to provide information about the botched gun sting Operation Fast and Furious.
“If the Attorney General decides to produce these subpoenaed documents, I am confident we can reach agreement on other materials and render the process of contempt unnecessary,” House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said in a statement Monday.
The committee, which has been investigating the matter, will vote on June 20 on whether to hold Holder in contempt of Congress for failing to provide more than 100,000 subpoenaed documents regarding a botched gun sting investigation.
During Operation Fast and Furious, a Justice Department program that began in September 2009, law enforcement knowingly allowed about 2,000 U.S. guns to flow to Mexican drug cartels, with the intent of tracking the weapons and making arrests. However, law enforcement lost track of most of the weapons. The program was halted in December 2010 after two weapons from the program were found at the murder scene of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry.
Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), ranking member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, had similar comments to Issa, albeit more deferential to Holder.
“It is unfortunate that the committee scheduled a contempt vote against the attorney general when federal law prohibits him from turning over many of the subpoenaed documents, but I am guardedly optimistic that a path forward exists that will serve the legitimate interests of the Committee in conducting rigorous oversight, protect the legitimate interests of the Department in its ongoing investigations and prosecutions, and avoid the needless politicization of this very serious issue,” Cummings said in a statement.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said Congress is losing patience with Holder and the Department of Justice.
“The Justice Department is out of excuses. Congress has given Attorney General Holder more than enough time to fully cooperate with its investigation into ‘Fast and Furious,’ and to help uncover the circumstances regarding the death of Border Agent Brian Terry,” Boehner said in a statement Monday.
“Agent Terry’s family, the whistleblowers who brought this issue to light and the American people deserve answers. 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 added.
Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), who first called public attention to the scandal after whistleblowers contacted him, called the possible contempt charge “straightforward and necessary.”
“Contempt is the only tool Congress has to enforce a subpoena,” Grassley said in a statement. “The Department of Justice can avoid the action by complying with its legal obligation. It’s not about personalities. It’s a procedural mechanism in our system of checks and balances. If Congress is afraid to pursue answers to questions, it’s not doing its job.
“People deserve transparency from their government. Transparency leads to the truth about what’s going on. It puts people in a position to defend their rights. It protects our freedoms.”
Grassley, ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, called a contempt charge the “only constitutionally viable” solution to the Justice Department’s not handing over subpoenaed documents.
“The President hasn’t asserted that privilege, presumably because the vast majority of the documents at issue aren’t related to communications with the White House,” Grassley said. “Because the documents don't fit the category of executive privilege, the department is obligated to turn over the documents.”
The House committee obtained six applications for wiretaps in the Operation Fast and Furious that indicate senior Justice Department officials had detailed knowledge of the program.
The contempt charge would pertain to documents since Feb. 4, 2011, when the Justice Department first denied gunrunning ever occurred. The documents would pertain to the treatment of whistleblowers and why it took the department almost a year to retract its denial.
A contempt charge does not place blame on what happened in Operation Fast and Furious on an individual, the House committee press release said. The Justice Department contends it provided the oversight committee with 7,600 pages of documents. The committee responds that it is a small portion of the more than 100,000 pages subpoenaed.
After the Justice Department first denied that their operation allowed guns to flow into Mexico in the Feb. 4, 2011 letter to Congress, a following letter on Dec. 2, 2011 formally reversed the denial.
The committee states the DOJ has been hiding the identity of officials who led the charge to retaliate against whistleblowers; the reactions of top officials when confronted with evidence about gunwalking; the Justice Department’s assessment of responsibility for officials who knew about the operation; and whether senior officials and political appointees at fault in Operation Fast and Furious were held to the same standards as lower level career employees whom the Department has primarily blamed.
Issa Says Holder Contempt Charge Can Be Avoided if HeWe have immigration laws that just need to be enforced.
- 06-12-2012, 03:46 PM #6
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Volunteers Needed to Help ALIPAC Stop Illegals From Canceling Your Votes"The people are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our Liberty"