A day after House Republicans voted to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress, the members of the Congressional Black Caucus got their revenge by forcing the House today to vote on a resolution scolding California Rep. Darrell Issa, the engineer behind the contempt vote, for mistreatment of Holder and behavior that they claim was against House rules.
A total of 108 House members, led by the Congressional Black Caucus and former Speaker Nancy Pelosi, staged a walk out during the contempt vote to protest the House voting for the first time in history to hold a sitting U.S. Attorney General in contempt. Rep. Barbara Lee of Texas decided to take the response a step further today by putting forth a “privileged resolution” that picked apart Issa’s handling of the Holder case through his House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
The case hinged on a botched ATF case called Operation Fast and Furious that was begun during the Bush administration by low-level agents who decided they could crack Mexican drug cartels by letting cartel members buy illegal guns in Arizona and tracing those guns to cartel bigwigs. But the whole thing backfired when illegal guns wound up being involved in the murder of about 200 Mexicans and ultimately the killing of ATF agent Brian Terry in a shoot-out. Though Holder, who has said repeatedly neither he nor President Obama knew anything about the operation, turned over more than 7,600 pages of evidence to Issa’s committee, Issa wanted more—leading him to push for a contempt vote.
Lee requested that the House clerk read her entire resolution out loud so that she could get it on the House record. Among the accusations in the resolution are that Issa: “jeopardized an ongoing criminal investigation by publicly releasing documents that his own staff has admitted were under court seal”; that he took steps that could “potentially jeopardize a criminal conviction”; that he “has engaged in a witch hunt, through the use of repeated incorrect and uncorroborated statements
in the committee’s ‘Fast and Furious’ investigation”; and that he “has chosen to call the Attorney General of the United States a liar on national television without
corroborating evidence and has exhibited unprofessional behavior.”
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Republicans were able to table the resolution by a vote of 259 to 161. Issa had no response. But Lee got what she wanted: to show House Republicans that two could play the political shame game.