SHOULD ERIC HOLDER BE CRIMINALLY PROSECUTED?
House Republicans voted Thursday to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress for refusing to produce documents in their investigation of Operation Fast and Furious.
How did this contempt charge come about and what does it mean?
When negotiations between Congress and the Justice Department broke down, and Holder refused to produce certain documents, the Obama administration asserted executive privilege, and the full House voted to charge Holder with contempt. This is the first time in history that a U.S. Attorney General has been charged with contempt, which is defined as a “willful disobedience to or open disrespect for the rules or orders of a court or legislative body.”
The CRIMINAL CONTEMPT charge refers the matter to a U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia (an Obama appointee) who also serves under Holder. It’s up to the U.S. Attorney whether to bring the congressional contempt citation before a grand jury to seek an indictment. The U.S. Attorney just announced that Holder's decision to withhold information about Operation Fast and Furious from Congress does not constitute a crime and he won't be prosecuted for contempt of Congress.
The CIVIL CONTEMPT charge authorizes the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to sue the Justice Department in an attempt to force Holder to turn over more documents. The matter is referred to a federal court in order to get a judge, who will review the case, to compel Holder to turn over the documents in question.
THOSE IN FAVOR
Those in favor of prosecuting Holder for contempt believe the Justice Department is engaged in a massive cover-up and that the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is entitled to investigate why hundreds of guns were smuggled from Arizona to Mexico. Many of the weapons ended up in the wrong hands, including the weapon used to kill Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry.
Those opposed say this is a politically motivated witch hunt, and the Attorney General should not be prosecuted. Holder has testified before Congress about Operation Fast and Furious nine times and turned over approximately 7,600 documents.