The citation charges Holder with obstructing the congressional probe into allegations that the government let thousands of weapons fall into the hands of Mexican drug cartels.
If the House Oversight Committee votes to place Holder in contempt, the measure will then head to the full House for consideration.
That said, what are the odds that the House panel actually votes “yea” on the contempt citation? Moreover, what are the chances that the full House follows suit?
Well, from the looks of things Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), the point man of the investigation, seems pretty frustrated with Holder’s stonewalling with respect to subpoenaed documents and prevarication regarding a Feb. 4, 2011, letter to Congress, which was later retracted by the DOJ, but nevertheless denied that that senior officials knew anything about the non-interdiction and minimal surveillance tactics that characterized the flawed operation (For more on this, click here).
“Specifically, the Justice Department has refused to turn over critical documents on the grounds that they show internal department deliberations and were created after Feb. 4, 2011 — the date Justice issued a false denial to Congress,” Issa said in Monday’s statement. “Contempt will focus on the failure to provide these post Feb. 4 documents.”
However, despite Issa apparent fury, he did extend an olive branch to Holder and the DOJ, saying that if Holder “decides to produce these subpoenaed documents, I am confident we can reach agreement on other materials and render the process of contempt unnecessary.”
The ball, it appears, is in Holder’s court. All he has to do is send over the requested documents. But will he?
The DOJ did not react well to the panel’s decision to set a date for the vote, calling it “unfortunate and unwarranted” but at the same time did express a desire to make a deal.
“From the beginning, Chairman Issa has distorted the facts, ignored testimony and flung inaccurate accusations at the Attorney General and others, and this latest move fits within that tired political playbook that has so many Americans disillusioned with Washington,” said spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler.
Yet Ms. Schmaler added that there were ongoing talks with committee staff about a “mutually acceptable resolution to their requests for information.”
Journalists over at POLITICO argued that the “odds are better than even that Issa’s committee will vote to hold Holder in contempt of Congress next week for not producing responsive documents.” If that happens, their GOP sources say a floor vote is likely before the July 4 congressional break.
While it’s difficult to disagree with the Washington insiders over at POLITICO, I don’t believe Holder will be placed in contempt of Congress. I think he’ll strike a bogus deal with GOP leadership and Issa before June 20. Therefore, it will never reach the House floor.
Now, I hope I’m wrong about this, I hope Issa and crew continue to put pressure on Holder and his lackeys until they get all the answers they are looking for as well as the answers that the public demands, but going that route takes (a) principled leadership and (b) a strong work ethic – qualities deficient in all politicians, regardless of their party affiliation.
In the end, don’t be surprised if Issa grabs for the lowest hanging fruit and strikes a deal at the last minute.