Attorney General Eric Holder in Contempt of Congress Over "Fast and Furious"


Not even Holder's own Democratic Party was united for him, though the Congressional Black Caucus found the whole thing "appalling" and led a walk off the floor in protest.

Details from CBS:

The House of Representatives voted to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress Thursday for failing to provide documents relating to the Fast and Furious gunwalking program.

The House took two votes, one on criminal contempt charges, which passed 255-67.

But ah! Don't expect much action. Separation of powers!

The criminal contempt of Congress is likely not to go anywhere as the Justice Department, which Holder heads, is the department responsible for opening a criminal investigation.

But there's more:

The second charge, which passed 258—95, was a civil contempt charge, could move to federal court where it could take years to litigate. Though the action puts more pressure on the administration to abide by the subpoenas and provide requested documents.

The Democratic Party was split on the action. Seventeen members voted with the Republicans to hold Holder in criminal contempt while just under two dozen voted to hold him in civil contempt. 

Holder says hell no:

Attorney General Eric Holder reacted after the first vote, criticizing House Republicans for "making reckless charges" and "advancing truly absurd conspiracy theories."

He called the vote against him "a 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."

What it's all about:

Republicans investigating the scandal say the answers to many outstanding questions could lie in tens of thousands of pages of documents the Justice Department has failed to turn over citing that they're part of the internal deliberative process or ongoing investigations.

Several weeks of closed door discussions between members of Congress, their staff, Justice Department officials and even Holder himself resulted in a stalemate. President Obama granted Holder's request for executive privilege to keep the documents from Congress, but House Republicans question if the action is further evidence of a cover up.

The Justice Department had offered to provide a "fair compilation" of the outstanding documents if Republicans on the House Oversight Committee would agree—in advance—to end their investigation once and for all. Republicans balked when the Justice Department refused to provide a log of the withheld documents and descriptions of why they were being held back, as routinely required in court disputes of this nature.

I blogged the other day about a "journalist of the year" who thinks we should all just stop being so damn nosy about Fast and Furious.

As you may have seen floating around the social networking worlds where people try to say all concerns they can label as "right-wing" are crazy, there's a very long Fortune report says the program was not deliberately designed to let guns walk off into the hands of Mexican criminals and that the whole hub-bub is overblown.

Note: I am not as of now equipped to independently judge the perspicacity of that Fortune story, which does read very special-pleading for its sources in various ways. I cite it in fairness and for your information, not in endorsement. Katie Pavlich at Town Hall does a good job taking Fortune on, thanks to commenter "cockgobbla" for the link on that. 

Though it's worth remembering as per the above, at this point Holder's problems are about the cover-up, not the crime, if crime there was.

Nick Gillespie vs. Maddow and Maher on the matter: