Led by House Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), Republicans in the House are preparing a contempt resolution against Attorney General Eric Holder, alleging that the nation’s top law enforcement official has obstructed a congressional investigation into a federal operation that allowed guns to flow to Mexican drug cartels.
A congressional source with knowledge of the contempt resolution confirmed to TPM that a draft does exist and said Republican leadership had been very supportive of the measure, which was first reported by CBS News. CBS said House Speaker John Boehner had given Issa the go-ahead to pursue the resolution, but a GOP leadership aide disputed that report and told TPM that “no decision” had been made.
That said, a Holder contempt resolution doesn’t seem far off in the dispute over documents related to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives operation dubbed “Fast and Furious.” A House Oversight Committee spokesperson said in a statement to TPM that the committee “continues to make necessary preparations to hold Attorney General Holder in contempt if the Justice Department refuses to change course and stop blocking access to critical documents” in their investigation, which began in early 2011.
“While the committee continues to move toward consideration of contempt, it is important to note that the next step in the process of contempt must be made by the Oversight Committee,” the spokesperson said. ”Reports, based on anonymous sources, that decisions for consideration of contempt on the House floor have already been made are inaccurate.”
DOJ noted in a letter to Issa last week that they have turned over or made available over 7,300 documents in response to the congressional subpoena. The April 19 letter also dismissed the comparison between the number of documents turned over to Congress with the number turned over to the Justice Department’s Inspector General, which is also reviewing the operation.
“This comparison is inapposite,” Assistant Attorney General Ronald Weich wrote. “As a component of the Justice Department, the Office of the Inspector General is entitled to review material that is not appropriate for further disclosure, such as transcripts of grand jury proceedings and other law enforcement sensitive materials.”
One Justice Department official noted that Holder had testified about Fast and Furious during seven separate congressional hearings and that they provided over a dozen officials for hearings, briefings and interviews.