When it comes to the investigation into operation Fast and Furious, the struggle between U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is playing out like a chess match on Capitol Hill – and it's Attorney General Eric Holder's move.
After making an uncharacteristic offer Tuesday during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, where he pledged to "compromise" with Republicans and try to provide more documents pertaining to Fast and Furious in order to avoid contempt charges, Holder is back on the clock again and is being asked to submit a "serious proposal" on how exactly he plans to do that.
“We are prepared to make – I am prepared to make — compromises with regard to the documents that can be made available,” Holder told the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday.
In a letter dated June 13, 2012, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Oversight Committee, responded:
I write to respond to the Deputy Attorney General letter from Monday , and to comments you made yesterday, expressing a desire to meet. As our staffs have discussed, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and the Department of Justice are at an impasse over documents the Department has refused to produce.
Let me be clear – if the Department of Justice submits a serious proposal for how it intends to alter its refusal to produce critical documents subpoenaed by the Committee, I am ready and willing to meet to discuss your proposal.
Many factors in this matter invoke not only a right, but an obligation, for Congress to do all that it can to examine the Department’s mismanagement of its response to Operation Fast and Furious:
[The] Department’s false February 4 denial of improper conduct; the fact that an attorney assigned by the Justice Department to investigate whistleblower allegations has since asserted his Fifth Amendment privilege in refusing to speak with congressional investigators; the admission by former Arizona U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke that he leaked sensitive information portraying a whistleblower in a distorted and negative light; continued complaints by whistleblowers that they have faced retaliation since blowing the whistle on reckless conduct; allegations by the former Acting Director of the ATF that the Department is managing its response in a way intended to protect its political appointees; and the nine month delay before the Department formally withdrew its false February 4 denial to Congress.
I remind you that while courts have found that the President of the United States can exert executive privilege over materials and conversations that play a role in advising the President, Department officials – including the Attorney General – enjoy no such privilege.
Again, I appreciate your effort to resolve this dispute. I believe the interests of the Department, Congress, and those directly affected by reckless conduct in Operation Fast and Furious are best served by an agreement that renders the process of contempt unnecessary.
This is usually about the time that Holder would stall Fast and Furious investigators, however, CBS News first reported Tuesday that the House Oversight Committee plans to hold a vote next week on whether or not to hold the attorney general in contempt. In other words, Holder will have to put up or shut up to prevent the vote.
The attorney general recently appeared before both chambers of Congress to answer some tough questions from lawmakers on the reckless federal gun-walking operation. He was warned multiple times that if he refuses provide the information and documents requested under subpoena then he could face potential contempt charges.
The Blaze reported yesterday how Holder went on tell the Senate Judiciary Committee that the charges being threatened against him represent "an impending Constitutional crisis." Watch some of his comments from the hearing here:
Read Issa's letter to the attorney general in its entirety here.