House holds Holder in contempt


Attorney General Eric Holder addresses 83rd LULAC National Convention on June 28, 2012 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. The House of Representatives will vote today on a contempt of Congress charge against Holder.


Gerardo Mora

The House of Representatives voted to cite Attorney General Eric Holder for contempt of Congress on Thursday, The Washington Post reported.

The Huffington Post said the vote was 255-67.

Holder said in a statement that the vote "is the regrettable culmination of what became a misguided – and politically motivated – investigation during an election year," according to The Post.

A criminal contempt resolution will send the case to the US Attorney for the District of Columbia, said USA Today. A civil contempt resolution will allow the House to sue Holder.

The contempt citation was over Holder's refusal to turn over documents related to the federal gun operation named Fast and Furious, said Bloomberg.

This is the first time a sitting Cabinet member has been held in contempt by either chamber of Congress, and will escalate the standoff between President Obama's administration and Republican lawmakers, according to The New York Times.

More on GlobalPost: Republican senator calls on Attorney General Eric Holder to resign

The White House released a statement which said, "But unfortunately, a politically-motivated agenda prevailed and instead of engaging with the President in efforts to create jobs and grow the economy, today we saw the House of Representatives perform a transparently political stunt," according to Politico.

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, led by chairman Darrell Issa, sought emails and memos from the Justice Department showing its internal debate over the botched gunrunning investigation which led to US agents losing track of hundreds of illegal guns in Mexico which were meant to help track arms dealers.

President Obama invoked executive privilege last week, backing Holder's decision not to release the documents.

More on GlobalPost: Obama invokes executive privilege, backing Holder

According to Politico, top House Democrats pushed for a mass walkout during the contempt vote. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, said, "The Democratic Caucus will seek to delay any vote that is essentially a baseless attempt to reduce the significance of the attorney general’s work."

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who also said she would walk out, said, "The whole reason that they want him to resign is because he's looking into voter suppression," according to USA Today.

House Speaker John Boehner disputed charges that the vote was politically-motivated, saying, "I don’t take this matter lightly, and frankly hoped it would never come to this," according to The Post.

The Associated Press noted that the National Rifle Association urged House members to vote for contempt, stating that Operation Fast and Furious was the Obama administration's attempt to press for gun control measures.

White House spokesman Jay Carney dismissed the vote as "political theater, an action taken by Congress that does not respond to the most urgent priorities of the American people," according to USA Today.