Attorney General Eric Holder Found in Contempt
Congressman Lummis commends House Oversight Committee, calls on Holder to avoid contempt by finally coming clean.
Jun 20, 2012 -
WASHINGTON – U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder was found by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to be in contempt of Congress by a vote of 23 to 17, a floor vote is expected next week. The basis for the contempt citation is the failure to produce documents relating to the congressional investigation of Fast and Furious. At the eleventh hour, minutes before the Committee met for the vote of contempt, President Obama invoked Executive Privilege over the documents, which were subpoenaed to uncover the Department’s withholding of evidence, intimidation of whistleblowers and hindering of a congressional investigation. Which now poses the question of why the White House is hiding the details of Border Patrol agent Brian Terry’s death. Today’s claim of Executive Privilege by the White House raises serious questions as to the extent of its involvement in either Fast and Furious or the misleading of Congress.
Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo) released the following statement in response to Wednesday’s events:
“Today’s actions from the White House add a layer of confusion and intrigue to the situation,” Rep. Lummis said. “What did the White House know and why did they choose today to express their exertion of executive privilege? With the full House having not yet scheduled a vote on contempt, Mr. Holder still has an opportunity to avoid contempt by finally coming clean with Congress, with the American people, and with the Terry family. It is my hope Mr. Holder works with Congress to avoid the full House vote.”
The Fast and Furious operation was conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE). During the operation, the BATFE instructed firearms deals to proceed with illicit sales to suspected “straw purchasers,” or individuals who purchase guns in order to turn around and sell them illegally. Suspecting the straw purchasers of involvement with Mexican cartels, the BATFE intended for the guns to be trafficked to Mexico. The BATFE failed to track the weapons, instead re-discovering them only when they turned up at the scene of violent crimes in both Mexico and the United States, including the scene of Border Patrol agent Brian Terry’s murder.
Frustrated BATFE agents warned their superiors of the potential for this kind of tragedy, but their warnings were ignored by their leadership. In the meantime, 2,000 weapons were allowed to walk and many still remain unaccounted for. Since the congressional investigation began, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has uncovered evidence of whistleblower intimidation and false or misleading statements by Department of Justice officials.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has refused to comply with key portions of an October 12, 2011 subpoena targeting Fast & Furious, the Department’s retaliation against whistleblowers, and the Department’s justification for taking nearly a year to retract its February 4, 2011 denial letter that turned out to be false. The contempt citation for failing to respond to the subpoena having been approved by the committee, it now goes to the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives for consideration.