On the day that President Obama scored one of the biggest victories in his term with the Affordable Health Care legal question in the U.S. Supreme Court, Republicans and their conservative surrogates pressed the issue on the U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder contempt issue on Capitol Hill.
They were licking their wounds from the drubbing by the Justices and were determined to score their pound of flesh. The House of Representatives voted the Attorney General in contempt of Congress by a vote of 255-67. Seventeen Democrats voted for the resolution and two Republicans voted nay. The passage of this resolution was the first time a sitting Cabinet member had been held in contempt by the full House. Such an action didn’t even happen during the foul-smelling Watergate and Contra-gate scandals.
Let’s look at the facts. One of the Republican representatives who voted no against the resolution, recognized the tremendous pressure exerted by the powerful NRA lobby, who literally called in favors on their paid officials, claiming the Obama administration was priming the pump with the Operation Fast and Furious to further its efforts to push gun control. Furthermore, the lobby threatened their loyal Democratic supporters that if they voted in favor of Holder, they would lose support from the group.
Conservatives mocked the walkout of many of Holder’s supporters as political cowardice. They were spoiling for a big legal fight and laughed when the Congressional Black Caucus protested the House vote with a stroll down the aisle — storming out. A spokesman for the group explained “Contempt power should be used sparingly, carefully and only in the most egregious situations” and that the GOP had “articulated no legislative purpose for pursuing this course of action.”
Even with President Obama’s order of executive privilege sheltering the undisclosed documents, some Republicans refused to accept two crucial Holder emails and one from Deputy Attorney James Cole in 2011 which showed that neither man knew about the controversial element of “gun-walking.” The contempt matter was not about the release of more documents nor was it about the murder of Brian Terry, a Border Patrol agent killed in December 2010 by Mexican criminals. This was another mud-slinging tactic to impede the president’s election prospects. Holder knows what happens in a presidential election year, where nothing is off-limits. He said the witchhunt was “politically motivated” and “misguided.”
Savvy in Beltway politics, Holder went to the heart of the matter: “Today’s vote may make for good political theater in the minds of some, but it is – at base – both a crass effort and a grave disservice to the American people. They expect – and – deserve – far better.”
Meanwhile, some Republicans feel this contempt matter is not over. Although Rep. Darrell Issa, who chaired the Congressional committee that passed the contempt resolution to the full House vote said the White House appeared not to be aware of the Holder matter, some conservatives want the matter to proceed further. The Holder contempt case will be sent to the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, who is under Holder.
As the GOP leadership said, along with many of the right-wing media types, this Operation Fast and Furious issue will not be put to rest. There is some talk out there: if the Democrats didn’t vigorously defend Attorney General Holder, how will the party elect the president with all of the huge PAC GOP money and poisonous conservative media.
The waters are bloodied and the American public will see what comes next.
By; Robert Fleming