The House Oversight Committee investigating the Obama administration’s deadly “Fast and Furious” gun-running scandal is seeking enforcement of formal charges against disgraced Attorney General Eric Holder in U.S. Court, demanding access to crucial documents that are being unlawfully withheld as part of what investigators say amounts to a cover-up. The announcement of the widely anticipated legal maneuver was welcomed by activists seeking truth and accountability, but more must still be done.
Meanwhile, pressure is building on the whole Department of Justice as a new book claims “team Obama” launched its vicious federal war on California’s lawful medical-marijuana industry to distract from the exploding weapons-trafficking scandal. The alleged strategy to deflect attention, however, appears to have backfired, leading to a separate bipartisan backlash and declining support even among some of the administration’s most ardent supporters.
After being caught lying under oath and refusing to hand over subpoenaed information, Holder was held in criminal contempt of Congress in June by an overwhelming and bipartisan vote. However, because of his position as chief of the Justice Department, the Attorney General has so far been able to shield himself from criminal prosecution that would force him to release the documents. Holder has also refused to resign despite growing public and congressional pressure, lashing out at critics and the media instead.
With the enforcement of criminal charges temporarily off the table, lawmakers plan to pursue a civil case instead — at least for now. "We are filing charges against Attorney General Eric Holder tomorrow," said House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) in a Twitter statement posted Sunday. The case will be filed in U.S. District Court for Washington, D.C., according to news reports.
The effort to seek enforcement of civil charges against the disgraced Attorney General represents the latest escalation of a battle between lawmakers and the administration that has been brewing for well over a year. Whistleblowers first exposed operation Fast and Furious after weapons from the scheme were recovered at the murder scene of U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry in December of 2010.
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Photo: Attorney General Eric Holder testifies on Feb. 2, 2012, before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing entitled, "Fast & Furious: Management Failures at the Department of Justice": AP Images