He may be facing a contempt-of-Congress vote next week in the House of Representatives, but Attorney General Eric Holder deserves praise — not contempt, according to one prominent Senate leader who oversees federal law enforcement.
The full House is expected to vote next week on whether to find Holder in contempt of Congress for the Obama administration decision to invoke executive privilege to withhold some documents related to the controversial former Justice Department program “Fast And Furious.”
A House committee dominated by Republicans voted on party lines Wednesday to find Holder in contempt.
The administration invoked executive privilege for the first time in declining to offer some documents related to the so-called Mexico “gun-walking” program begun under the Bush administration.
However, the administration has turned over more than 7,000 pages related to “Fast and Furious,” and Holder himself testified to Congress nine times to answer questions about it.
Fast And Furious involved federal agents purposefully failing to stop gun trafficking into Mexico, hoping to track them to drug cartels. Agents, however, lost account of many of those weapons. Some of the guns were involved in the killing of U.S. agent Brian Terry.
Like many other Democrats, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee believes House Republicans are playing politics in an attempt to embarrass President Obama and his team in an election year.
“This is a dispute between the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and the Justice Department. I do believe it could and should have been resolved. The Department has made extraordinary efforts to balance the sensitivities associated with ongoing criminal investigations and the need to be responsive to congressional oversight. The Bush Justice Department was not nearly this forthcoming and never tried to reach a reasonable accommodation in response to our oversight efforts,” says Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.).
Rather than hinder it, justice was served due to the actions taken by Holder, Leahy says.
“Because Attorney General Holder has testified about Fast and Furious on many occasions, we have learned what happened and what went wrong. The Attorney General stopped the use of inappropriate tactics that dated back to the Bush administration when he learned of them, and those responsible have been held accountable,” Leahy says. “It is time to put the focus back on helping with the Justice Department’s law enforcement efforts, including its work to stop the violence on the southern border at the hands of Mexican drug cartels.”