Today, Rep. Trey Gowdy, a former federal and state prosecutor who prosecuted scores of firearms cases while working for the United States Attorney's Office, released the following statement in regards to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee resolution of contempt charges against Attorney General Eric Holder.
"It did not have to come to this. Congress has a constitutional responsibility to exercise oversight over the Executive Branch and that oversight responsibility began well over a year ago with respect to "Fast and Furious". Despite repeated requests for documents, multiple appearances before various committees of Congress, and more than ample time to comply, the Department of Justice has still failed to answer fundamental questions about this ill-conceived, ill-executed firearms operation."
"Congress has been patient - indeed too patient in my judgment - with the Department of Justice and its failure to comply with the lawful request for the production of documents. I understand that for some everything is political. Surely the Department of Justice can rise above petty, partisan politics and comply with a subpoena. The Department of Justice expects others to comply with subpoenas yet they will not do so themselves."
"The Department of Justice is not just one more agency within the federal government. The Attorney General is not just one more political appointee put in place to advance one agenda or the other. Lady Justice is blindfolded for a reason. Not because she can't see who is in front of her but because she has the character, the self restraint, the love of law and order sufficient to keep her from looking. The Attorney General is the chief law enforcement officer for the United States. That is a role far and beyond mere politics.
"For us to make it as a republic the citizens must have confidence in the institutions of justice and must have confidence in the top law enforcement official in the country. How can they possibly have either if the Department of Justice is withholding documents, ignoring legal process, and providing no answers when lives have been lost and will continue to be lost as a result of this botched and terribly ill-conceived operation?"
"It should not have to come down to a contempt of congress resolution. But since it apparently is, we will do the jobs we swore allegiance to the Constitution to do. Even if others will not."
The Committees on the Judiciary and Oversight and Government Reform have been investigating "Fast and Furious" for over a year. To date, ATF Director Ken Melson has stepped down and U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke has resigned. Attorney General Holder continues to deny prior knowledge of the investigation, but documents show he had been informed of the operation more than 6 months before his May 3, 2011 testimony in a Judiciary Committee hearing focused on Department of Justice.