WASHINGTON -- House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Wednesday that the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is playing politics with its vote to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress, an action she said that even she didn't seek as House Speaker when she thought someone was legitimately deserving of it.
"I could have arrested Karl Rove on any given day," Pelosi said to laughter, during a sit-down with reporters. "I'm not kidding. There's a prison here in the Capitol ... If we had spotted him in the Capitol, we could have arrested him."
Rove was senior advisor and deputy chief of staff to former President George W. Bush from 2001 to 2007.
Asked on what grounds she could have arrested Rove, Pelosi replied, "Oh, any number. But there were some specific ones for his being in contempt of Congress. But we didn't."
The House committee is voting Wednesday whether to hold the U.S. attorney general in contempt of Congress for not handing over certain documents sought by the committee chairman, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.). The contempt vote comes after months of complaining by Issa that Holder is refusing to comply with subpoenas for materials relating to the Justice Department's botched Operation Fast and Furious. Holder, who has already given the committee 7,600 documents, maintains he can only provide so many materials without breaching confidentiality rules.
Pelosi sounded off on the ordeal ahead of the committee vote.
"This is just strictly political," she said. "It's just the irresponsibility of the Republicans. We want jobs. Why are they spending this time doing this?"
The Democratic leader also took a shot at Issa for abusing the process of holding an official in contempt.
"'Loose cannon' would sort of be like such a compliment to Darrell Issa. 'Loose cannon' would be a moderate phrase. This is an explosive device," she said. "It doesn't serve our country, and it undermines the true purpose of contempt of Congress."
"That's why I didn't arrest Karl Rove when I had the chance."
UPDATE: 4:38 p.m. -- The House Government Oversight and Reform Committee voted to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress by a 23-17 vote. The full House will consider the matter sometime next week.
Below, photos from the contempt hearing and prior investigation: