JON E. DOUGHERTY, NEWSROOM AMERICA
Congressional Republicans investigating the Fast and Furious scandal are preparing to issue a contempt citation against Attorney General Eric Holder, reports said Friday.
The citation would accuse Holder and his Justice Department of obstructing a congressional investigation into an operation in which thousands of U.S.-based firearms were allowed to “walk” across the border into Mexico, CBS News reported.
The purpose of the citation is to force Holder to relinquish tens of thousands of documents related to the ATF operation, in which the guns were directed towards known drug lords and their minions, in an effort to track them.
Reports said Republicans have, for months, been looking into the possibility of issuing a contempt citation against the attorney general. The House investigation is being led by Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif.
House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio was given a 48-page long draft of the citation by Issa, head of the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee, CBS News said.
“While there are very legitimate arguments to be made in favor of such an action, no decision has been made to move forward with one by the Speaker or by House Republican leaders,” a unnamed GOP leadership aide told CBS News.
Staffers involved in the investigation said the Speaker would not have to okay issuance of the citation but would have to approve a vote taken by the full House on the issue, said the report.
The Los Angeles Times first reported the proposed citation.
Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, the top Democrat on the panel, accused Issa of playing election-year politics.
“Leaking a draft contempt citation that members of our committee have never seen suggests that you are more interested in perpetuating your partisan political feud in the press than in obtaining any specific substantive information relating to the committee’s investigation,” he said. “These actions undermine the credibility of the Committee, as well as the integrity and validity of any contempt actions the Committee ultimately may choose to adopt in the future.”
Republicans have, for months, questioned Holder and other Justice Department officials regarding the particulars of Fast and Furious, including how a gun involved in the operation was used to kill a U.S. border agent.
Holder has denied any DOJ cover-up regarding the operation. The attorney general, for his part, has said he did not authorize gunwalking or other tactics employed in the operation, nor did he believe they were authorized other DOJ officials.
“Not only did I not authorize those tactics, when I found out about them I told the field and everybody in the United States Department of Justice that those tactics had to stop,” Holder said during congressional testimony in February. “That they were not acceptable and that gunwalking was to stop. That was what my reaction [was] to my finding out about the use of that technique.”
In December, Holder suggested racism was the motivating factor in calls for him to step down in wake of the scandal.
“This is a way to get at the president because of the way I can be identified with him,” he told The New York Times. “Both due to the nature of our relationship and, you know, the fact that we’re both African-American.”
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