Monday, June 11, 2012

House Committee Schedules Contempt Vote On AG Holder

The House Oversight Committee has scheduled a vote next week on whether to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress over his non-compliance with subpoenas for documents relating to Fast and Furious, a Department of Justice operation. Fast and Furious involved the Department of Justice allowing thousands of illegally purchased weapons to 'walk' across the border for resale to Mexican drug cartels. The weapons had no tracking devices, most have never been recovered and over 300 murders have been attributed to them, including the murder of U.S. border patrol agent Brian Terry.

Since this came to light, there has been a major pattern of stonewalling, obfuscation and outright lies to the committee, headed by Representative Darrel Issa and Senator Chuck Grassley.

There was a move about a month ago to start the wheels running for a contempt vote, but GOP Speaker John Boehner headed it off for reasons best known to himself.However, after last week's testimony by Holder in which he essentially told the committee exactly what they could do to themselves, even Boehner finally realized enough was enough.

In a statement he released today,Boehner said that "the Justice Department is out of excuses."

"Congress has given Attorney General Holder more than enough time to fully cooperate with its investigation into 'Fast and Furious,' and to help uncover the circumstances regarding the death of Border Agent Brian Terry," Boehner added. "Either the Justice Department turns over the information requested, or Congress will have no choice but to move forward with holding the Attorney General in contempt for obstructing an ongoing investigation."

Fine, you might ask..what does all this mean?

The vote to find Holder in contempt of Congress will likely pass in committee and will almost assuredly pass by a mostly partisan vote in the House. Once it's voted on, Congress has several options.

They can - wait for it - refer this to the Department of Justice for further investigation.Let's finish laughing and move on.

If we had a decent president in the White House who took his oath seriously, Congress could request him to appoint a special prosecutor.We don't and that obviously isn't going to happen here.

Finally, they can go through the courts to try and compel the Attorney General to provide the information they're seeking.If the court agrees and if Holder still refuses, it's contempt of court, which makes him subject to fines and even imprisonment.

Since number three is the only realistic option, Holder undoubtedly feels quite confident in continuing to lie and stonewall. Just going through congress and putting this through the federal courts is going to take months if not a couple of years, the end result is going to depend a great deal on whether President Obama is re-elected or not.

If the president is defeated, Holder will undoubtedly negotiate a settlement of sorts with Congress, which is what Bush Chief of Staff Joshua Bolton did with the Democrats after President Obama was elected over an inquiry into the firing of federal prosecutors by the Bush administration. The governing classes are notoriously shy about prosecuting members of a previous administration after power has changed hands, even over something like Fast and Furious.

If President Obama is re-elected and Holder is still Attorney General, we might see this fester and become more serious over time, the way Watergate did.

In any event, President Obama would almost certainly grant Holder a blanket presidential pardon, because the end trail leads right to the White House.

Eric Holder might tell Congress he has no idea who signed off on Fast and Furious, but it's a matter of record that Deputy Attorney General David Ogden clearly stated on March 24, 2009, that "President Obama provided the initial ten million dollars from the stimulus funds to launch the program". As a matter of fact, it's in the stimulus bill itself.

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