U.S. House finds Attorney General Holder in contempt
WASHINGTON, (Reuters) – U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder was found in contempt of Congress yesterday as the Republican-controlled House of Representatives sanctioned the nation’s top law enforcement official for withholding some documents related to a failed gun-running probe.
The mostly partisan vote of 255-67 marked the first time a sitting attorney general and presidential Cabinet member was cited for contempt by the full House. No Senate vote is necessary in this House contempt citation.
Many Democrats refused to cast votes, and Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi led dozens of her colleagues in a walkout from the House floor in protest.
The fight over the Obama administration documents revolves around “Operation Fast and Furious,” a federal law enforcement program intended to track weapons sold in Arizona that were suspected of being transported to Mexico for use by violent drug cartels.
In the end, 17 Democrats voted to support the contempt charge, while two Republicans opposed it and 108 Democrats refused to cast votes.
Reacting to the vote, White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer called it “a transparently political stunt,” despite Justice Department efforts to accommodate Congress.
Holder, in a statement released by the Justice Department, noted that he had ordered an independent investigation of Fast and Furious “as soon as it came to light” and said he “tried to cooperate with the congressional investigation” but was “rebuffed.”