House Republican leaders are offering Attorney General Eric Holder an ultimatum: Either send the House documents related to the Fast and Furious gunrunning operation within the next few weeks or face a vote to hold him in contempt of Congress.
House conservatives thought their leaders were moving too slowly in acting on the strong effort by Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa to initiate a contempt vote on Holder, Politico
Speaker John Boehner, Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, and Issa sent Holder a letter last week asking for documents to show whom came up with the disastrous Mexican gun program. They also seek information as to why Justice Department officials misled Congress at the beginning of its investigation.
The letter didn’t specify a deadline, but said that if the Justice Department doesn’t get the information to the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, “the House will act to fulfill our constitutional obligations in the coming weeks.”
If Justice only partially obeys the information request, the House leadership will deliver a contempt referral to the department, accusing it of obstructing a congressional investigation. No prosecutorial action would likely follow that action.
The House leaders’ strong stance indicates they see the potential of strong political gain from attacking Holder publicly in an election year. The leadership was reluctant to press the contempt issue initially, because Democrats were opposed to the idea.
But the letter requests only two sets of documents, compared to 22 originally sought by Issa.
The Fast and Furious program allowed Mexican criminals to buy U.S. weapons, with the idea that the arms could then be traced to Mexican drug kingpins. But it didn’t work, and some of the weapons were found at the murder site of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry.
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