Justice Department Disputes Fast and Furious Contempt Charge

By:  Alex Newman
05/07/2012
       
Justice Department Disputes Fast and Furious Contempt Charge

House Republicans are inching closer to issuing a contempt citation against disgraced Attorney General Eric Holder for scandals surrounding the Obama administration’s deadly weapons-trafficking operation “Fast and Furious.” But in recent days, the Department of Justice implausibly insisted that it cooperated with the congressional investigation. 

House Republicans are inching closer to issuing a contempt citation against disgraced Attorney General Eric Holder for scandals surrounding the Obama administration’s deadly weapons-trafficking operation “Fast and Furious.” But in recent days, the Department of Justice implausibly insisted that it cooperated with the congressional investigation.

Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and other Representatives, however, disagree, saying the executive branch has been engaged in a cover-up from the start. Still, no final decision has been made yet on whether or not to proceed with formal contempt charges against Holder or other senior officials.

But progress is being made — albeit, slowly. A draft resolution released publicly on Thursday has already been circulated among senior lawmakers for review. And if the administration continues to obstruct justice, further action is widely anticipated.

Throughout the investigation, the Justice Department and its officials have repeatedly withheld documents, missed deadlines, lied to congressional investigators, and more. One senior official involved in the scandal, Patrick Cunningham, even invoked Fifth Amendment protections before the Committee to avoid incriminating himself.

More than a few Congressmen and analysts have blasted the behavior as stonewalling. And well over 100 Representatives have called for Holder to step down or be fired as pressure continues to mount. Some lawmakers even suggested that the defiance represents a violation of federal law.

In response to the lack of cooperation, the House Oversight Committee — which has been investigating the deadly gun-running program since it was first exposed by whistleblowers about a year and a half ago — has been warning for months that it would take more drastic measures to get to the truth if needed. And last week, Issa finally sent a memo to Committee members offering the draft contempt citation and an explanation of why it might well be needed.

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Photo: Attorney General Eric Holder speaks at the Northwestern University law school, March 5, 2012 in Chicago: AP Images

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