POLITICS

House Oversight Committee Votes To Hold Eric Holder In Contempt Of Congress

06/20/2012 04:27 pm ET | Updated Jun 21, 2012

The House Government Oversight and Reform Committee has voted to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress by a 23-17 vote.

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) announced that they will bring the contempt resolution to a vote in the full House next week unless Holder hands over the documents regarding Operation Fast and Furious.

Holder slammed Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), the chairman of the committee, following the vote:

Simply put, any claims that the Justice Department has been unresponsive to requests for information are untrue. From the beginning, Chairman Issa and certain members of the Committee have made unsubstantiated allegations first, then scrambled for facts to try to justify them later. That might make for good political theater, but it does little to uncover the truth or address the problems associated with this operation and prior ones dating back to the previous Administration.

The vote came after President Barack Obama asserted executive privilege for the first time in response to Issa's request.

The Department of Justice has released over 7,600 documents detailing the Fast and Furious program over the course of the House committee's lengthy investigation, which was launched in the wake of reports that Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry had been killed by one of the firearms involved in the operation. Those documents described a controversial practice carried out by agents of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives that was designed to allow firearms to "walk" into Mexico in hopes of tracing them back to higher-level gun traffickers.

The gun-walking technique, which had roots in previous operations carried out by federal agents in Arizona during the administration of President George W. Bush, eventually led to a number of weapons being lost in the flow. Some of the guns were recovered at crime scenes on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border.

Issa's latest push pertains to documents that would shed light into how the Justice Department handled the congressional probe into the failed program. Issa contends that Holder has engaged in a "cover-up" and attempted to "obstruct [the] investigation and deceive the public," a charge that hinges on the Justice Department's initial denial that the gun-walking had been officially sanctioned or previously known about.

Also on HuffPost:

Photos From The Operation Fast And Furious Investigation

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