Earlier today, the Obama administration “won” the health care decision. This afternoon, they “lost” a partisan struggle. Congress voted to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress. Holder becomes the first attorney general, and really, the first cabinet member, to be held in contempt.
Two hundred and fifty five Congresspeople voted to hold Holder in contempt. Twenty Democrats joined the vote. Shockingly, the National Rifle Association decided to “score” the vote as part of the Representatives report card on gun laws. Voting for contempt gets a “good score” from the powerful lobbying group, and many believe that explains the 20
chicken s*** Democrats who voted for contempt.
Holder is being accused of not cooperating with Congress’s ongoing investigation into the Fast and Furious program. It’s not clear that Holder even knew about the program. But, you know, Republicans are in the majority in Congress so they don’t really have to explain why they’re going after the Attorney General….
In case you’ve been living under a rock, Fast and Furious seems to be an extremely stupid government operation. From CNN (don’t worry, I checked to make sure they got this one right):
Fast and Furious, a so-called “gun-walking” operation, allowed roughly 2,000 guns into Mexico with the goal of tracking them to Mexican drug cartels. Two guns found at the scene of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry’s fatal shooting were linked to the operation. Guns from the operation have also been linked to an unknown number of Mexican civilians’ deaths.
GOP leaders say the documents they seek are needed to get to the circumstances surrounding Terry’s death. Democrats insist the Republican-led probe is all about politics. Thursday’s vote came two days after House Republicans rejected the latest offer by the White House and Justice Department to turn over some of the documents sought by congressional investigators in exchange for dropping the contempt measures.
Congressman Darrell Issa, who is leading the Congressional Fast and Furious investigation admitted just a few days ago that he has no evidence that Holder did anything wrong or committed any cover-up. From Mediaite:
[Chris Wallace] played a clip of House Speaker John Boehner saying that the invocation of executive privilege is “an admission” of guilt on the part of the White House. Wallace asked Issa directly if “any evidence” currently supports the claim that White House officials were at all involved with the operation or a cover-up of any kind.
Issa said quite clearly that it doesn’t, and expressed the hope that the entire investigation stays with the Justice Department and that it doesn’t turn out later on that they were involved.
On the very day that the Chief Justice struck a blow for non-partisan judgment, Congress’s decision to hold the sitting Attorney General in contempt for the first time in history smacks of politics as usual. Many Democrats stormed out of the chamber during the vote and chanted “shame on you” from the steps of the Capitol.
It looks like Holder just got caught up in simple election year politics. It’s not a good day for the A.G., and not a good day for Congress.
UPDATE: Here’s part of Holder’s statement, which is up on Main Justice:
Today’s vote is the regrettable culmination of what became a misguided – and politically motivated – investigation during an election year. By advancing it over the past year and a half, Congressman Issa and others have focused on politics over public safety. Instead of trying to correct the problems that led to a series of flawed law enforcement operations, and instead of helping us find ways to better protect the brave law enforcement officers, like Agent Brian Terry, who keep us safe – they have led us to this unnecessary and unwarranted outcome.
Read the full statement on Main Justice.
Citing NRA score, Democrats brace for defections in Holder contempt vote [MSNBC]
Rep. Darrell Issa Admits There Is No Evidence Connecting White House To Fast & Furious Scandal [Mediaite]
House holds Holder in contempt [CNN]