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Jay Carney: Fast and Furious Contempt Vote Just 'Political Theater

Jay Carney: Fast and Furious Contempt Vote Just 'Political Theater

"It's not about Fast and Furious."

With an impending contempt vote looming in the House, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters on Wednesday that Republicans have made a "strategic choice" to go forward with contempt proceedings and the Obama administration hopes they "change their mind."

But he made one thing clear about the Fast and Furious investigation and contempt charges, "It's not about Fast and Furious."

Carney said Justice Department staffers met with members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee yesterday in an attempt to strike a deal that would prevent a contempt vote on Thursday, however, the negotiations were fruitless.

In the meeting, Carney said House Republicans were offered "unprecedented access" to Fast and Furious documents and provided "samples" of the information but the lawmakers were reportedly not impressed.

"It is unfortunate," Carney added. "There was an ample opportunity to resolve this as there has been in the past, unfortunately Republicans have chosen politics."

When asked by an Associated Press reporter how the Obama administration would respond to the vote, Carney said, "It will be viewed for what it is, if it takes place, and that is political theater."

Responding to the National Rifle Association supporting a Holder contempt vote and arguing Fast and Furious was part of Obama's anti-gun initiative, Carney said the group is asserting that Fast and Furious was some "grand plan" by the Obama administration.

"The premise behind the assertion falls apart upon even the barest of inquiry," he said.

The press secretary also defended President Obama's use of executive privilege over Fast and Furious documents.

"The assertion of privilege here has to do with the absolutely necessary action that any president, any head of the Executive branch must take to preserve the capacity of the executive branch to engage in internal deliberations," Carney explained.

He again reiterated that the White House is hoping that the vote does not happen, saying the White House remains hopeful that "common sense" will prevail.

When pressed about documents that Holder's administration has refused to provide, Carney refused to answer only saying, "I would refer you to the Justice Department."

Earlier Wednesday, Speaker John Boehner said the House will move forward with a contempt of Congress vote against Attorney General Eric Holder over the gun-tracking operation known as Fast and Furious.

The Ohio Republican told reporters that last-minute talks with the White House about releasing documents had failed to avert the vote. President Obama has asserted executive privilege to keep the documents secret, but Republicans say there's no basis for that.

(Related: Either You Were Involved in 'Fast and Furious' or You Are Asserting a Presidential Power That You Know to Be Unjustified: Rep. Issa's Scathing Letter to President Obama)

The issue has political implications this election year. The National Rifle Association is keeping score, prompting some Democrats to join Republicans in voting for contempt. Such a citation would not cause the release of more documents on the operation, in which guns were allowed to "walk" from Arizona to Mexico in hopes they could be tracked.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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