Yesterday the House of Representatives voted to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of congress after he repeatedly refused to comply with information requests regarding Operation Fast and Furious. The botched gunrunning operation allowed thousands of illegal weapons to “walk” across the border and into the hands of Mexican drug cartels, and has left in its wake a murdered US border agent along with hundreds of dead Mexicans.
The big question today is, “What will happen to Holder now?”
Chances are he won’t be going to jail, although, as the Washington Times explains, he could under the law.
Despite voting to hold Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. in contempt of Congress, there’s little House Republicans can do in the short term to compel him to turn over documents — unless it wanted to revisit a long-dormant power and arrest him.
The thought is shocking, and conjures up a Hollywood-ready standoff scene between House police and the FBI agents who protect the attorney general. It’s a dramatic and unlikely possibility not least because Congress doesn’t even have a jail any longer. But in theory it could happen.
Republicans say it’s not even under consideration, with House Speaker John A. Boehner’s spokesman flatly ruling it out.
Instead, House Republicans will take the case to court in an effort to compel him to turn over the documents.
In a second vote, the House gave itself the authority to go to court to get the documents.
That will put a spotlight not only on Holder but also on his boss, President Barack Obama, who has insisted he can withhold the documents under executive privilege.
“The contempt citation will go away,” said Todd Peterson, a law professor at George Washington University.
“Congress will probably file a lawsuit, in part hoping to find some judicial support but more because it’s just another way to publicize the president’s refusal to comply with their demands for documents,” Peterson said.
Failure to obey a potential court order on the documents would expose Holder to a more serious contempt of court charge, though few expect it to come to that.
So it’s unlikely that we’re going to see Holder doing a perp-walk anytime soon.
In related news, House Oversight Committee Chairman Darryl Issa (R-CA) put details of a secret wiretap application on the record in the midst of the contempt debate.
In the midst of a fiery floor debate over contempt proceedings for Attorney General Eric Holder, House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) quietly dropped a bombshell letter into the Congressional Record.
The May 24 letter to Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), ranking member on the panel, quotes from and describes in detail a secret wiretap application that has become a point of debate in the GOP’s “Fast and Furious” gun-walking probe.
The wiretap applications are under court seal, and releasing such information to the public would ordinarily be illegal. But Issa appears to be protected by the Speech or Debate Clause in the Constitution, which offers immunity for Congressional speech, especially on a chamber’s floor.
According to the letter, the wiretap applications contained a startling amount of detail about the operation, which would have tipped off anyone who read them closely about what tactics were being used.
November can’t come fast enough. If we oust President Obama Eric Holder will be gone along with him.