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House Panel Holds Holder in Contempt of Congress
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On Wednesday, a congressional panel voted to charge Attorney General Eric Holder with contempt of Congress following the exercise of executive privilege by the White House to withhold documents in a failed gun-running probe. The contempt charge adds a new chapter in the ‘Tale of Two Houses,’ the fight between the Republican-controlled House of Representatives and the White House. Republican House leaders have vowed to schedule a full House vote next week on the contempt charge.

The operation codenamed “Fast and Furious” was meant to help federal law enforcement agents to follow the traffic of guns from Arizona into Mexico, to the hands of Mexican drug cartels. However, U.S. agents somehow lost track of many of the weapons. Some of the lost weapons were later found to be used in crimes including the slaying of U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry.

Michael Steel, a spokesman for House leader Boehner said “Until now, everyone believed that the decisions regarding ‘Fast and Furious’ were confined to the Department of Justice….The White House decision to invoke executive privilege implies that White House officials were either involved in the ‘Fast and Furious’ operation or the cover-up that followed.”

  
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The White House made a preemptive strike at the House panel before the vote and White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer said “Instead of creating jobs or strengthening the middle class, congressional Republicans are spending their time on a politically motivated, taxpayer-funded election-year fishing expedition.”

Holder issued a statement saying that the conflict was avoidable and “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 congressional panel however, found Holder guilty of contempt of the Congress.

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The parents of the slain U.S. border agent released a statement criticizing the move of the White House in using executive privilege to withhold documents from the investigation. They demanded the documents sought by the committee on the gun-running operation which ran from late 2009 to 2011. Terry’s parents said, “Our son lost his life protecting this nation, and it is very disappointing that we are now faced with an administration that seems more concerned with protecting themselves rather than revealing the truth behind ‘Operation Fast and Furious.’”

Issa, one of the House Republicans on the panel said “The president’s assertion of executive privilege this morning took us by surprise but did not alter the committee’s conclusion that documents had been inappropriately withheld.”





 

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