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Full House Votes to Hold Atty. Gen. Holder in Contempt

Washington, DC
Thursday, June 28, 2012

Following last week's vote in the House Oversight Committee, the House voted to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in Contempt of Congress for his role in the investigation into the "Fast and Furious" program.

The final vote was 255-67, with two Republicans voting nay. Those votes were from Rep. Scott Rigell (R-VA) and Rep. Steve LaTourette (R-OH). 17 Democrats voted in favor of the resolution.

Later, the House voted 258-95, with five lawmakers voting “present,” in favor of the second contempt of Congress resolution against Holder. This resolution is known as the “civil” contempt resolution, which authorizes the House to initiate judicial proceedings against the Attorney General to force him to comply with the subpoenas for the documents.

Attorney General Eric Holder responded to today's House vote from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New Orleans. He called the charges "reckless," and the investigation misguided and politically motivated.

The Department of Justice and the House leadership were in talks to prevent the vote until early Wednesday morning, when the AP reported they failed to reach an agreement.

The House Oversight Committee, under the leadership of Chairman Darrel Issa (R-CA), is seeking documents relating to the "Fast and Furious" program in which guns sold in South-Western states were tracked in hopes of tracing them to leaders of drug rings across the border in Mexico. Guns in the program were later used in several crimes, including the murder of a Border Patrol Agent.

The Justice Department argues that it has already provided all the relevant documents, except those that cover ongoing investigations. The White House announced that it was seeking executive privilege in withholding some of the documents just before the House Committee met last week.

Members of the Congressional Black, Hispanic, Asian Pacific American and Progressive Caucuses, as well as other members, walked off of the House floor during the vote to hold Holder in contempt of Congress. 

During the daily White House briefing on Wednesday, Press Secretary Jay Carney said the investigation was politically motivated and that the White House and Justice Department had made numerous overtures to try to resolve the issue, but that Congress wasn't interested in a quiet resolution.

In an investigation by Fortune Magazine, released Wednesday, the reporters detail an agency caught between federal oversight and state gun laws that prevented the success of the operation. Arizona gun laws do not prevent the purchase of multiple guns, require no waiting periods, and allow the resale of weapons.  Under the law, the ATF agents had to prove that the guns were purchased with the intent to commit a crime.

Updated: Friday, June 29, 2012 at 1:17pm (ET)

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