By now, you’ve undoubtedly heard about Operation Fast and Furious, which actually is not an effort to catch illegal drag racers. Instead, it’s an operation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) where it’s been alleged that BATFE agents let tons of firearms flow south of the border by people they knew to be buying for the Mexican drug cartels. One of these guns was reportedly used to kill US Border Patrol agent Brian Terry.
The gun rights community, predictably, is up in arms (pun unintended) about it. Some are going so far as to claim it is all part of an effort to push forward increased gun regulations here. Yesterday, President Obama claimed executive priviledge regarding documents that Congress and subpenoaed. They had ordered them eight months ago.
Now, first let me address the conspiracy theory regarding using Fast and Furious being a way to push forward regulations here. I might have had something to do with that one. Months ago, on a blog that is no longer up on the net, I wrote that if I were inclined towards conspiracy theories, I would believe such a thing. After all, the use of American guns by drug cartels was cited by both President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as reasons why we needed tougher gun regulations in the US. This was while Fast and Furious was going on and sending a proverbial buttload of guns down to Mexico…guns that BATFE knew about and did nothing to prevent.
Of course, a report from CBS News from December, 2011 looks like I might have been on to something:
Last month, the House of Representatives took the extraordinary step of voting to find Attorney General Eric Holder in both criminal and civil contempt of Congress over his failing to comply with requests for documents related to the Fast and Furious scandal. Even though the Justice Department, which Holder oversees, will not pursue the criminal charges, House Republicans have indicated that they will follow through with the civil charge.
Unfortunately, President Barack Obama has invoked “executive privilege” in order to conceal documents related to the ATF operation gone awry. Early polls indicated that Americans opposed use of “executive privilege,” but the Obama Administration has not back down from its stance.
According to a CNN/ORC International survey released Monday morning, 53% of people questioned say they approve of the House vote a week and a half ago to hold the attorney general in contempt of Congress for refusing to turn over documents related to a controversial program called Operation Fast and Furious, with one in three saying they disapprove of the move and 13% unsure.
Nearly three-quarters of Republicans approve of the move, as do a majority of independent voters, while a plurality of Democrats oppose the vote.
As noted on Thursday, the House of Representatives voted to find Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress. The first vote, which found 17 Democrats voting with 238 Republicans, was for criminal contempt. The Department of Justice has already indicated that it will not prosecute Holder, who heads the department.
The second vote, however, was for civil contempt, which gives House Republicans a better chance of investigating Holder for his defiance of a congressional inquiry over the Operation Fast and Furious scandal, in which the ATF allowed firearms and munitions to freely cross into Mexico.
According to the House Oversight and Government Affairs Committee, which is chaired by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), Holder has turned over 7,600-pages of documents more than 100,000 sought in the congressional investigation. The committee notes that “[m]any of these 7,600 pages have little value – many were already public and others have been nearly completely redacted.”
Speaker John Boehner insisted yesterday that the House will take Holder to court, but the future of any case is murky thanks to President Barack Obama shielding Holder through use of “executive privilege.” Because of the legal terrority in which the Republicans now finds themselves, it’s unclear whether or not the documents sought will ever be produced.
The Supreme Court won’t bring all of the fireworks today as the finally make public their decision in the legal challenges to ObamaCare. As I explained yesterday, the House of Representatives is set to vote on the contempt resolution against Attorney General Eric Holder due to his failure to produce documents related to the Fast and Furious scandal.
Because the National Rifle Association is scoring the vote on the resolution, some House Democrats are planning to cross the aisle and vote to find Holder in contempt, a point that House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) freely admitted earlier this week. The National Journal tells us exactly which members are bolting from their party on the vote:
he House may vote on Thursday to cite Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress in connection to the Fast and Furious investigation. And although the vote will likely be largely split along party lines, some Democrats have said they’re breaking ranks. Here’s a list of such members, which we’re updating:
Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., plans to vote yes, his press secretary confirmed to the Alley.
Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah, was the first to announce he’s going with the Republicans on this one.
About an hour ago, the House Oversight and Government Affairs Committee voted along party lines to find Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress:
A House panel voted Wednesday to hold Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. in contempt for failing to cooperate with a congressional inquiry into Operation “Fast and Furious,” hours after President Obama asserted executive privilege over related documents.
On a party-line decision, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee voted 23 to 17 to hold Holder in contempt for failing to share documents related to the operation run out of the Phoenix division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives between 2009 and 2011, with the backing of the U.S. attorney in Phoenix. The move makes Holder the first member of Obama’s Cabinet held in contempt by a congressional committee.
The panel’s actions will be reported to the full House, where Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) and GOP leaders have scheduled a floor vote for next week unless Holder hands over the documents before then. If passed by the House, the matter would then move to the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, Ronald C. Machen Jr., who is an employee of the Justice Department.
The details of what comes next aren’t exactly clear. Based on what I’ve heard, the Department of Justice, which Holder runs, would likely have to prosecute him. Needless to say, that is incredibly unlikely. And again, impeachment is completely out of the question. And whether or not Obama can even use “executive privilege” in this instance will probably wind up in the courts.
It looked as though Attorney General Eric Holder was going to be able to avoid a looming contempt vote in the House provided he cooperated with the inquiry into the Operation Fast and Furious scandal. However, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) said yesterday that he plans to move forward with the vote, as early as today, in the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee:
A House committee is poised to vote on whether to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress for failing to turn over more Justice Department documents on a flawed gun-smuggling probe that resulted in hundreds of guns illicitly purchased in Arizona gunshops winding up in Mexico.
The likelihood of a contempt vote rose after Holder and Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., failed to reach agreement Tuesday in a 20-minute meeting at the Capitol.
Issa wanted the documents immediately. Holder told reporters he would not turn over documents on the gun-smuggling probe called Operation Fast and Furious unless Issa agreed to another meeting congressional briefing on the Justice Department material. Holder wants an assurance from Issa that the transfer of the records would satisfy a subpoena from the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which Issa chairs.
“If we receive no documents, we’ll go forward” with a contempt vote, Issa told reporters.
“We have offered to make materials available … to brief on those documents, to answer any questions that might come up with regard to the documents that we produced,” the attorney general said.