Contempt is defined as: An act of deliberate disobedience or disregard for the laws, regulations, or decorum of a public authority, such as a court or legislative body.
It is no wonder that the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will consider holding Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress on June 20 relating to the ongoing Fast and Furious ATF gun trafficking scandal.
During the House Judiciary Justice Department Oversight committee hearing on June 7th, it became abundantly clear that Attorney General Eric Holder has complete contempt for congress.
Setting aside for a moment the topic of Fast and Furious – a disastrous ATF operation to allow guns to cross the border into Mexico, and then determine at which crime scene they re-surfaced thereby tracking their purchasers – Mr. Holder’s contempt became clear as congressperson after congressperson asked Mr. Holder why they had not received an answer to a prior inquiry. Mr. Holder made it clear from his answers that he had made little or no effort to follow-up on congressional inquiries, whether they came from republicans or democrats.
In his efforts to obfuscate, delay, or outright refuse to answer questions, Mr. Holder made it clear that he holds himself beyond the reach of congressional oversight, and possibly even believes that the law is whatever Mr. Holder thinks it is at any given moment.
Ms. Lofgren (D-CA) began her questioning by saying “When you were last before us in December, I asked you about a case involving the seizure of a domain name called Jazzone.com for alleged copyright infringement. In December, you said you were unfamiliar with the case, but that you would look into it. Since that time, not only have not heard from you, but new details have surfaced.” It was clear from his answer that Mr. Holder had not looked into the case.
Chairman Lamar Smith then asked Mr. Holder, “Mr. Attorney general a number of members today have made requests from you of information. When can they expect those requests to be responded to, two weeks or so? To which the Attorney General replied, “We will do the best that we can as quickly as we can, I’m a little surprised that we have not responded to at least some of the things in connection with the last time I was here.” Indicating that he had not followed up on any of them.
Mr. King (R-IA) said “Just in picking up on the chairman’s remarks, I point out that I had a series of questions that I asked on December 8th here, and although we haven’t pressed relentlessly for those responses, I haven’t seen them and so I’m going to be submitting a new request from December 8th and additionally for this today.”
Mr Franks (R-AZ) quizzed, “Mr. Holder on April 27, 2011 members of this committee asked you to give us information surrounding the decision by justice to forgo prosecution of the un-indited co-conspirators in the Holy Land Foundation case. This is the largest terrorism financing case in US history. You refused to comply with this request and you still have not prosecuted despite there being what many consider to be a mountain of evidence against these jihadist groups, at least one of which now says it is working inside your agency to help advise on the purge of counter terrorism training materials. We are told that this mountain of evidence which outlines the jihadist network within the United States amounts to 80 bankers boxes full of documents. This evidence was turned over to the court and much of it was given to the jihadist’s defense lawyers. Members of this committee and other committees would like to review this evidence, whether it has to be on a classified basis or not. Would you commit today to give us provide us with those documents which comprise the government’s case in the Holy Land Foundation trial?”
Eric Holder replied, “It’s hard for me to answer that question.”
Mr. Franks responded, “No it’s not, it’s just will you or will you not?”
Holder: “I will take a look at your request and see if it is appropriate or not….”
Franks: “Well we made the request on April 27th of last year and ah so far it hasn’t happened”
Louie Gohmert (R-TX) also asked Mr. Holder if they would get the documents the government provided to the defendants in the Holy Land Foundation trial, and again Holder evaded. Gohmert then asked if Holder ever demanded to know who authorized Fast and Furious. Holder replied that he asked the Inspector General to look into it.
Mr. Chaffetz (R-UT) asked if Mr. Holder would make himself available to four members of the committee to sit down and answer some questions about what they have seen in the Fast and Furious evidence.
“I’m not sure there is a lot more I can say,” was Holder’s response.
Chaffetz then asked, “did you personally read the letter Speaker Boehner sent to you?” Holder replied, “Yes I got that letter.” Chaffetz asked again, “Did you read it?” “Yes.” Then Chaffetz followed up “Did you respond to it?” Holder replied, “The deputy attorney general replied to it.”
It is evident from his evasionary tactics that the Attorney General of the United States has no intention of being straightforward or forthcoming in providing any detailed information to congress about the activities of his office, and that they ought to just leave him alone to do what he sees as his job.
Congress has no choice but to vote on contempt charges. We will see what the oversight committee decides on June 20th.