House Oversight Chairman Darrell “Witch Hunt” Issa held a vote of contempt for Attorney General Eric Holder in the House Oversight Committee yesterday. No cabinet officer in the history of the country has been charged with contempt of Congress, including John Mitchell for his coverup of the Watergate scandal. This is unprecedented and unnecessary, and so venal and vile in its partisanship that Issa and his Republican cronies should be investigated for contempt charges for pursuing this non-issue. This from a congress that has a 9% approval rating. To whom are they trying to appeal?
Contempt passed along party lines by a vote of 23 to 17.
It’s now up to Speaker of the House John Boehner to pass a resolution of contempt among the entire House of Representatives, which he says he will do next week unless Eric Holder cooperates with Issa’s witch hunt committee.
The funny thing is, however, Eric Holder has cooperated, testifying before congress 9 separate times and handing over more than 7600 documents. He has also offered to hand over daily Justice Department briefing papers, which he is not required to hand over. If he did give them these papers, it would be an unprecedented move, as no cabinet officer has ever given congress these types of privileged records and communiques.
Regardless, the Republicans want to hold him responsible for a program that began under former President George W. Bush and former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales in 2006. Eric Holder ended the program after it was brought to his attention and promptly initiated an investigation. In short, he inherited the program and ended it as soon as he found out about it. And Issa and the rest of the high-tech lynch mob known as Republican members of the Oversight Committee are blaming him for the program and demanding a pound of flesh from him, maybe because he is President Obama’s Attorney General, and like the President, a man of color.
There is absolutely no basis for this partisan witch hunt or the vote of contempt. The Attorney General has complied with their every request, attended every hearing to which he was called, handed over unprecedented materials, offered to hand over others, and answered every question they have had. It’s clearly an election year ploy meant to embarrass the President and his administration, even if any embarrassment should laid at the feet of the previous administration who conceived of, and ran the program for at least four years.
I don’t believe this will earn the Republicans anything other than their own vote of contempt held by independent voters.
We’re 9 days away from student loan interest rates doubling. Congress, and more specifically the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, still hasn’t passed the transportation bill which would retain, and/or, create millions of jobs. The Republican-controlled House of Representatives still hasn’t signed off on a renewal of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) because it protects immigrants, Native American tribes, and members of the LGBT community. And just yesterday, Eric Cantor (R-VA) put a hold on the farm bill because he wants time to assess the political situation. You know, because cooperating might look bad for them.
We’re in a lame-duck session of congress that will be used as an example by which to judge all future lame-duck sessions, and the Republicans are busy trying to tie a noose around Eric Holder’s neck.
Most Americans have no idea what any of this is about. This will only be seen as a distraction.
Here is the official Department of Justice response to the contempt charge leveled against Attorney General Holder:
“Unfortunately, Chairman Issa has rejected all of these efforts to reach a reasonable accommodation. Instead, he has chosen to use his authority to take an extraordinary, unprecedented and entirely unnecessary action, intended to provoke an avoidable conflict between Congress and the Executive Branch. This divisive action does not help us fix the problems that led to this operation or previous ones and it does nothing to make any of our law enforcement agents safer. It’s an election-year tactic intended to distract attention — and, as a result — has deflected critical resources from fulfilling what remains my top priority at the Department of Justice: Protecting the American people.
“Simply put, any claims that the Justice Department has been unresponsive to requests for information are untrue. From the beginning, Chairman Issa and certain members of the Committee have made unsubstantiated allegations first, then scrambled for facts to try to justify them later. That might make for good political theater, but it does little to uncover the truth or address the problems associated with this operation and prior ones dating back to the previous Administration.”
The only reason that Issa and his cronies are not ashamed of their actions is that they have no capacity for shame. But the shame that they bring upon the legislative process and the congress in which they serve will live much longer and have more far-reaching impact than the venality of their actions.