Yesterday, the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform voted to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress for his continued refusal to release internal Justice Department documents related to the fatally flawed Operation Fast and Furious.
The resolution passed along partisan lines by a vote of 23-17, with full support from the National Rifle Association.
“The NRA fully supports this contempt resolution,” said Chris W. Cox, executive director of NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action. “The American people – including millions of NRA members and tens of millions of NRA supporters – deserve the truth, and we will support any effort that leads us to that truth” (to Mr. Cox’s letter to Congress, click here).
Holder attempted to strike a last minute deal with Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) to avoid a contempt hearing, but Issa, the chairman of the House committee, told reporters that the conditions Holder tried to set were unacceptable.
“Our purpose has never been to hold the attorney general in contempt,” Issa told reporters. “Our purpose has always been to get the information the committee needs to complete its work — that it is not only entitled to, but obligated to do.”
Holder may have seen the writing on the wall, because on Tuesday, he implored President Obama to invoke executive privilege to protect certain DOJ documents from being turned over to congressional investigators.
Holder said, in a written letter, he was “very concerned that the compelled production to Congress of internal Executive Branch documents generated in the course of the deliberative process concerning its response to congressional oversight and related media inquiries would have significant, damaging consequences.”
To the chagrin of congressional investigators, Obama listened to Holder and announced he would assert executive privilege.
“How can the president assert executive privilege if there was no White House involvement?” Sen. Chuck Grassley, the point man of the Senate committee investigating F&F, said in a statement. “How can the president exert executive privilege over documents he’s supposedly never seen? Is something very big being hidden to go to this extreme?”
With Obama using his presidential power to protect those internal DOJ documents, there is little hope that they will ever see the light of day.
Nevertheless, Republican leaders in the House will continue to pursue the contempt charge against Holder. It is expected that the contempt resolution will be brought to the House floor before the July forth recess. The full chamber will vote on the matter, given the Republican majority, it is likely to pass.
Even if it does pass, many believe it will have a negligible impact on Holder or the Obama administration. For one thing, the Democratic-controlled Senate will not follow suit and for another, those ultimately responsible for prosecuting Holder have strong ties to the DOJ – what are the chances they eat one of their own?
Democratic leaders see the contempt charge as nothing more than political stunt, a way to grab headlines while spurning the Obama administration (see Pelosi video).
Perhaps getting lost in all of this is the search for the truth and the underlying reason why investigators started down this path to begin with, slain Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry.
“Our son lost his life protecting this nation, and it is very disappointing that we are now faced with an administration that seems more concerned with protecting themselves rather than revealing the truth behind Operation Fast and Furious,” Josephine Terry and Kent Terry Sr. said in a statement issued by the family’s attorney.
The real question on everyone’s mind should be, when will this family have closure? When will the American people have answers?