Texas Rep. Blake Farenthold suggested that Attorney General Eric Holder should be behind bars during a House Judicial Committee hearing on Tuesday.
Holder had been testifying in front of the hearing when Farenthold, a Republican, declared that he did not plan to ask the Attorney General any questions because he should have been in jail.
“I’m committed to maintaining the Constitutional balance of power and the authority that this legislative branch has, and I just don’t think it’s appropriate that Mr. Holder be here," he said. "If an American citizen had not complied with one of the Justice Department’s subpoenas, they would be in jail and not sitting here in front of me, testifying.”
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Farenthold was referring to Holder’s refusal to hand over certain documents subpoenaed by the House Oversight Committee in 2012 related to the Operation Fast and Furious gun-running scandal.
The subpoena demanded that Holder turn over any documents pertaining to the scheme under which agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were told not to intervene in stopping stop guns bought in the U.S. from being taken to Mexico.
The plan was to trace the weapons in the hope they would lead them to the leaders of vicious drug cartels. But it misfired and hundreds of assault weapons went missing. They have been used in dozens of crimes in Mexico, and at least 12 in the U.S.
In issuing the subpoena,
committee chairman Darrell Issa, a California Republican, said, “Top Justice Department officials, including Attorney General Holder, know more about Operation Fast and Furious than they have publicly acknowledged. The documents this subpoena demands will provide answers to questions that Justice Officials have tried to avoid since this investigation began eight months ago.”
Farenthold’s attack on Holder came soon after Rep. Louis Gohmert clashed with the Attorney General on Tuesday at the same hearing.
After the Texas Republican had suggested that "contempt" was "not a big deal" to Holder, the Attorney General snapped back, "You don’t want to go there, buddy. You don’t want to go there, OK?"
Gohmert had challenged Holder
on repeated requests the committee had made for documents in Justice's case against the Holy Land Foundation, a designated terrorist group based in Texas. Founders of the group, who have been convicted and sentenced for funneling money to Hamas, are seeking a new trial.
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