President Barack Obama pulled a surprising move Wednesday morning when he asserted executive privilege for the first time in response to requests made by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, to release documents for an investigation into the Justice Department's Operation Fast and Furious gun-running program.
The House committee voted to hold Holder in contempt of Congress by a 23-17 vote, but not before unleashing some criticism on Obama.
"Our purpose has never been to hold the attorney general in contempt," Issa said in reaction to Obama's use of executive privilege. "Our purpose has always been to get the information the committee needs to complete its work -- that it is not only entitled to, but obligated to do."
Below, a slideshow of other politicians' reactions to Obama's use of executive privilege:
Republican Presidential Hopeful Mitt Romney
"President Obama's pledge to run the most open and transparent administration in history has turned out to be just another broken promise," Romney Press Secretary Andrea Saul <a href="http://www.buzzfeed.com/zekejmiller/romney-campaign-says-obama-fast-and-furious-decisi" target="_hplink">said in a statement</a> to BuzzFeed.
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.)
"Our purpose has never been to hold the attorney general in contempt," Issa <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/21/us/obama-claims-executive-privilege-in-gun-case.html?pagewanted=all" target="_hplink">said</a>, according to the <em>New York Times</em>. "Our purpose has always been to get the information the committee needs to complete its work -- that it is not only entitled to, but obligated to do."
Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.)
"I treat assertions of executive privilege very seriously, and I believe they should be used only sparingly. In this case, it seems clear that the administration was forced into this position by the committee's unreasonable insistence on pressing forward with contempt despite the attorney general's good faith offer."
House Speaker John Boehner's Spokesman Michael Steel
"Until now, everyone believed that the decisions regarding 'Fast and Furious' were confined to the Department of Justice," John Boehner's spokesman Michael Steel said. "The White House decision to invoke executive privilege implies that White House officials were either involved in the 'Fast and Furious' operation or the cover-up that followed. The Administration has always insisted that wasn't the case. Were they lying, or are they now bending the law to hide the truth?"
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa)
The <em>Washington Times</em> <a href="http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/jun/20/obama-asserts-executive-privilege-over-ff-docs/" target="_hplink">reports</a>: "The assertion of executive privilege raises monumental questions," said Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee who first began the Fast and Furious investigation. "How can the president assert executive privilege if there was no White House involvement? How can the president exert executive privilege over documents he's supposedly never seen? Is something very big being hidden to go to this extreme? The contempt citation is an important procedural mechanism in our system of checks and balances."
Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.)
"I am astounded that today we are sitting here weighing whether to hold the Attorney General of the UnIted States, the highest ranking law enforcement officer in our country, in contempt of Congress. The House of RepresentatIves has never in our long history held an Attorney General in contempt, and I am horrified that we are going forward wIth this contempt charge, that the President of the United States and the Administration have invoked executive privilege for the documents sought by the chairman, and the Attorney General is being attacked for protecting documents that he is prohibited by law from producIng, and I just speak strongly in opposition to this action and in opposition to this report."