The House of Representatives on Thursday voted to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress for his refusal to turn over subpoenaed documents in the Operation Fast and Furious case.
The vote drew support from 17 Democrats ??? which is more Democrat votes than any Obama budget has ever gotten. The rest of the Democrat Party literally fled the chamber, staging a mass walk-out to protest the vote. One member voted ???present,??? which was the hallmark of Barack Obama???s Senate career, but we know it wasn???t him, because he was busy celebrating the Supreme Court???s ObamaTax decision.
Earlier, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi actually got the name of slain U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry wrong, calling him ???Brian Taylor,??? so you can tell she cared deeply about this case.
House Oversight Committee chairman Darrell Issa, on the other hand, made a point of placing a large photo of Agent Terry behind him while he spoke in advance of the vote. He also brought the wiretap applications that Eric Holder tried to conceal from House investigators, only to have them handed over by a ???mole??? in the Justice Department. Issa said these documents made it clear top Justice officials knew about the ???gunwalking??? tactic used in Operation Fast and Furious. ???I give you my word,??? said Issa, ???You read this, you know they were letting guns go to Mexico. They knew who the buyers were, who the intermediaries were, who the recipients were, and most importantly, where they ended up.???
Issa reminded the House that Justice officials knew all this before Agent Brian Terry was killed. Terry???s murder was the event that triggered the panicked shutdown of Operation Fast and Furious, not any action of Eric Holder???s. ???That???s at a time when ATF agents in Mexico City, if they punched in a serial number of a weapon found there, they got an error,??? said Issa. ???That???s because the information was being blocked, not by ATF per se, but by Justice, under the auspices of the U.S. Attorney and his bosses.???
As for the contempt vote against Holder, Issa said, ???We???re here today because when we asked questions about Brian Terry???s murder, about Fast and Furious, we were lied to. We were lied to repeatedly, over a ten-month period.???
After the vote, Issa said ???this was not the outcome I had sought, and it could have been avoided had Attorney General Holder actually produced the subpoenaed documents he said he could provide.??? He vowed that ???unless President Obama relents to this bipartisan call for transparency and an end to the cover-up, our fight will move to the courts, where we will prevail in getting the documents that the Justice Department and President Obama???s flawed assertion of executive privilege have denied the American people.???
Attorney General Holder did not take the results of the contempt vote terribly well. He held an angry press conference in which he dismissed the charges as ???reckless,??? and said they were accompanied by ???truly absurd, truly absurd conspiracy theories.??? This is presumably a reference to the growing belief that the true purpose of Operation Fast and Furious was to push American guns into Mexico, for domestic political purposes.
Holder also sneered that ???today???s vote made good political theater??? and called the effort ???crass.??? At least there were plenty of good seats to enjoy this particular ???political theater,??? since a hundred Democrats vacated theirs.
Update: Reaction from Robert Heyer, chairman of the Brian Terry Foundation: ???The Terry family takes no pleasure in the contempt vote against Attorney General Eric Holder. Such a vote should not have been necessary. The Justice department should have released the documents related to Fast and Furious months ago. Eric Holder???s refusal to do so and President Obama???s assertion of executive privilege have stood in the way of justice and the answers we seek into the death of fallen Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry. Given the Obama Administration???s steadfast refusal to level with the American people, Congress was left with no choice but to vote Mr. Holder in contempt.???