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Holder Contempt Vote Set For Thursday

Mere hours after the Supreme Court issues the last opinions of its term, including a ruling on the Constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act,  the House of Representatives will vote on whether to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt:

The House plans to vote Thursday on a resolution that would hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt for failing to produce documents in the “Fast and Furious” gun-running investigation.

A spokeswoman for Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) confirmed on Monday that the vote is scheduled for Thursday. Republicans have said the vote could be postponed if Holder complies with subpoenas issued by the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, but President Obama has invoked executive privilege to shield Holder from releasing them.

Since this was announced last night, many observers have cited the timing as evidence the GOP is scheduling the vote to maximize the Administration’s headache’s on Thursday, and perhaps there’s some truth in that. The other way to look at it, though, is that they are scheduling it for a day when the news cycle is likely to be dominated by the Court’s decision in the ACA cases, and it’s likely that the next several days will be spent talking about the meaning and political implications of the Court’s decision. To some extent, the contempt vote will get buried in the news cycle. That will only last for so long since there will have to be follow up to the expected vote in favor of contempt, but for a few days at least the House’s vote will be out of the public mind, and that may just what Republican Leadership wants.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    Let me make it easy for the Holder apologists: when would the timing of the contempt vote be acceptable to you? When would it not be “politically motivated?”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 6

  2. al-Ameda says:

    The permanent investigation must continue.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

  3. al-Ameda says:

    spokeswoman for Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) confirmed on Monday that the vote is scheduled for Thursday.

    Interesting, it’s timed to coincide with the upcoming Supreme Court decision on the Heath Care Act.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  4. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @al-Ameda: Yeah, if only those stupid partisan Republicans had settled for the first misleading statement… or the second… or recognized that the Attorney General has no obligation to obey subpoenas from Congress, and they should be glad that he gave them 1 out of 20 documents that they wanted.

    Oh, and they’re racists, too, because the laws that apply to white Attorneys General don’t apply to black ones.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 8

  5. Tsar Nicholas says:

    Holder is so far out there one actually finds one’s self longing for the days of Janet Reno.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 9

  6. al-Ameda says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Oh, and they’re racists, too, because the laws that apply to white Attorneys General don’t apply to black ones.

    You seem obsessed with race, why?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  7. Jeremy R says:

    I was wondering how long it would take Rep. Issa to do a 180 on what he said on Fox News Sunday, where I’m sure he regrets answering a direct question from Chris Wallace, instead of dodging it. On that show he responded that he had no evidence the White House was involved in the F&F decisions, no evidence they knowingly misled congress and no evidence of any sort of WH coverup.

    Today he sent a letter to the President, though obviously it’s true intended audience was the media, where he accuses the WH of either being directly involved in F&F and then covering it up, or of simply being involved in a cover-up:

    http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0612/77824.html

    In a letter to Obama to be released Tuesday morning, the California Republican and chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee charged: “Either you or your most senior advisors were involved in managing Operation Fast & Furious and the fallout from it…or, you are asserting a presidential power that you know to be unjustified solely for the purpose of further obstructing a congressional investigation.

    “To date, the White House has steadfastly maintained that it has not had any role in advising the Department with respect to the congressional investigation. The surprising assertion of executive privilege raised the question of whether that is still the case.”

    Now, Issa has taken his still-unfinished fight with Holder directly to Obama. … Furthermore, Issa offered no evidence to back up his accusation but instead extrapolated from Obama’s assertion of privilege to cover Justice Department communications.

    “The congressman’s analysis has as much merit as his absurd contention that Operation Fast and Furious was created in order to promote gun control,” White House spokesman Eric Schultz said.

    Issa’s letter, which is dated Monday but was provided to reporters under a strict early-morning Tuesday embargo, seeks to drag Obama into the probe.

    “To what extent were you or your most senior advisors involved in Operation Fast and Furious and the fallout from it, including the false February 4, 2011 letter provided by the Attorney General to the Committee?” Issa wrote in the letter. “Please also identify any communications, meetings, and teleconferences between the White House and the Justice Department between February 4, 2011 and June 18, 2012, the day before the Attorney General requested that you assert executive privilege.”

    Of particular note is the fact that Issa is now directly perusing WH internal deliberations, perhaps trying to intentionally force further executive privilege invocations.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  8. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @al-Ameda: You seem obsessed with race, why?

    I dunno, dude. Maybe I’m just making this up out of whole cloth or something.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 3

  9. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Jeremy R: Of particular note is the fact that Issa is now directly perusing WH internal deliberations, perhaps trying to intentionally force further executive privilege invocations.

    Obama himself opened that door by invoking Executive Privilege, which only covers communications that directly involve the president. Issa’s just asking for the rationale for how Executive Privilege applies.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 3

  10. Jenos Idanian #13 says:
  11. al-Ameda says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    @al-Ameda: Honest. I’m just pulling this out of my butt.

    I believe you. Unlike Mitt Romney, I think you’re telling the truth on this one. You won’t distancing yourself from your own remarks, will you?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  12. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @al-Ameda: You need to take your sarcasm detector into the shop. It’s seriously out of whack.

    For the clue-impaired, if you follow the links in my “confessions,” you’ll see assertions from allegedly reputable people that this pressure on Holder is racially motivated.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 4

  13. al-Ameda says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    @al-Ameda: You need to take your sarcasm detector into the shop. It’s seriously out of whack.

    Jeez, now I feel the way I felt when I learned that Mitt Romney does not believe in anything, which is … “oh, okay.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  14. Jeremy R says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Obama himself opened that door by invoking Executive Privilege, which only covers communications that directly involve the president. Issa’s just asking for the rationale for how Executive Privilege applies.

    The Executive Privilege invocation only covers the subset of documents generated after February 4th, 2011. The internal documents concerning what Issa hyperbolically calls the DOJ “lying” have already been released.

    The focus of this investigation was originally supposed to be the Phoenix ATF office’s operation that took place in 2009, but of course Rep. Issa happily used the DOJ’s correction letter as an excuse to start fishing into the DOJ (and now he’s using the EP invocation to stretch into the WH):

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/21/us/obama-claims-executive-privilege-in-gun-case.html?_r=1

    Mr. Issa was initially seeking a broad range of documents, including some that were sealed by court order. But the contempt citation is more narrowly focused on internal Justice Department deliberations last year amid the Congressional investigation.

    The administration has already released a similar set of documents from before Feb. 4, 2011, showing how it drafted an early letter that falsely told Congress that A.T.F. always made every effort to interdict guns, which the department later retracted. Those documents showed that employees in Arizona had insisted to the officials who drafted the letter that no guns had walked in Fast and Furious.

    The administration said it was making an exception for release of the pre-Feb. 4 documents to show that it had not deliberately misled Congress, but that it would not turn over records of internal deliberations after that. Republicans, however, insist they have a right to see those too.

    On Tuesday evening, Mr. Holder offered to give the committee some of the disputed documents if Mr. Issa would agree to end the fight over contempt, but the lawmaker refused to consider doing so until he saw them.

    On Wednesday morning, Deputy Attorney General James Cole said in a letter to Mr. Issa that the president was claiming privilege over the documents because their disclosure would chill the candor of future internal deliberations. However, he suggested that there might still be a way to negotiate the release of some of the contested documents.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  15. Dazedandconfused says:

    I suspect they decided that it would be better to claim EP when they did, rather than right after the House votes to hold Holder in contempt. The optics are a bit better.

    House votes beingf quite predictable these days.

    Either you’re right about the reason for Thursday, or it’s a whale of a coinky-dink.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  16. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Dazedandconfused:

    Invoking EP takes certain enforcement options off of the table for Congress and drastically limits the degree to which it can compel production.

    As far as I can see, inherent contempt is off the table. Criminal process with respect to the contempt citation is off the table. That leaves Congress with pursuing civil contempt, which takes forever (Miers and Bolten, just as examples), and this Congress expires in January.

    I realistically see this going nowhere from an investigatory standpoint, but then again I’m still not entirely convinced that it wasn’t chiefly motivated by a political purpose (what isn’t where Congress is concerned these days?) to begin with.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  17. Dazedandconfused says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    My impression certainly is that it is politically motivated. The problem with all this is that it’s about running ops against vicious international crime cartels, and the DEA, at least, has moles in them. This creates an event horizon into the same sort black hole that covers spies. We, the public, are simply not able to see the whole deal.

    This is a situation that can easily be used to make Holder appear to be obstructing things, and in fact it was revealed that Issa has subpoenaed things that he knows damn well Holder is barred by federal law from revealing. The subpoena was narrowed just a week ago, but it appeared to me a tactical move by Issa to “clean up his act” for the coming spotlight.

    I suspect that at the judiciary hearing, Issa’s behavior…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lSYHCB3hYrw&feature=related

    caused the administration to decide they have had enough. This has gone on for a year (“That’s all we can takes and we can takes no more!” ) and as Ike said: “If you can’t solve a problem, enlarge it.” Declare EP. Blow this into the mainstream press. Bring the spotlight. Make our day.

    I’ve watched or listened to all the hearings, yet all I can do is guess. There is so much that is only available to members of the committee that it’s impossible to do more.

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