With House Republicans pursuing a contempt resolution against Attorney General Eric Holder, it’s worth a read of House Speaker John Boehner’s words from the past.
Democrats have argued that the House Oversight Committee, led by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), hasn’t exhausted all of its options to get the documents requested for its investigation of the ATF’s botched Fast and Furious operation. They say DOJ has been turning over information that wouldn’t affect an ongoing investigation and that Republicans should wait out a report on that matter from the Justice Department Inspector General.
Back in 2008 when Democrats were pursuing a civil contempt lawsuit in the U.S. Attorneys scandal, Boehner (along with Reps. Roy Blunt, Lamar Smith and Chris Cannon) filed a friend of the court brief that made pretty much the same argument.
Democrats, the brief asserted, appeared to want to “generate a rapid confrontation with the White House” and discarded the opportunity to obtain voluntary information. They “declined the benefit of the results of a more exhaustive investigation conducted by the Department’s Office of the Inspector General (“OIG”) and Office of Professional Responsibility (“OPR”)” and “chose instead to pursue premature contempt citations,” the brief stated.
The complete facts reveal an investigation that appeared designed to generate a rapid confrontation with the White House, in concert with initial interviews of senior Department of Justice (“Department”) officials; discarded at the very outset the opportunity to obtain voluntary information from the White House; declined to pursue information from a number of other witnesses that could have clarified whether information from White House sources was needed; ignored exculpatory evidence pertaining to the White House’s role in the dismissals; declined the benefit of the results of a more exhaustive investigation conducted by the Department’s Office of the Inspector General (“OIG”) and Office of Professional Responsibility (“OPR”); chose instead to pursue premature contempt citations; considered the issue of the subpoenas and contempt after many months of dormancy in the full House under an extraordinary rule precluding both full debate and a direct vote on the contempt resolutions; and culminated with an admission by the Committee chairman on the House floor that the Committee had no evidence against Ms. Miers and Mr. Bolten, and was engaged essentially in a fishing expedition.
As the Huffington Post points out, Issa also opposed the Democrats pursuit of contempt against former White House Counsel Harriet Miers and chief of staff Joshua Bolten and followed Boehner off the floor of the House in boycott of the vote after Boehner said the floor was being abused for “political grandstanding.”
As TPM reported, the contempt proceedings probably wouldn’t mean much legally for Holder.