Mr. DAVIS of Illinois. Mr. Speaker, U2 has a song, ``Some Days Are Better Than Others.'' The lyrics go something like this:
Some days are dry. Some days are leaky. Some days come clean. Other days are sneaky. Some days take less, but most days take more. Some slip through your fingers and onto the floor.
Well, Mr. Speaker, today it is certainly threatening to slip through onto the floor. The House is apparently preparing for an unprecedented floor vote to hold a sitting Attorney General, the Nation's chief law enforcement officer, in contempt. The path that has led us to this sorry day is so long, so bizarre, so tortuous, so fantastical, so unbelievable that it stretches the imagination of individuals to try to make some sense out of our actions.
The Oversight Committee started out investigating the so-called ``gun walking'' which was initiated under the Bush administration. The Department of Justice produced thousands of pages of documents. The Attorney General testified nine times, and the committee found no wrongdoing by the Attorney General.
So the committee majority turned its attention to a February 4, 2011, letter sent by the Department of Justice to Senator Grassley, initially denying allegations of gun walking. The DOJ acknowledged the errors in the letter
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to Senator Grassley and provided more than 1,300 pages of internal documents showing how the letter came to be drafted. The documents demonstrated that the staff did not intentionally mislead Congress but relied on assurances from ATF leaders and officials in Arizona who ran the operation.
Did the committee call the head of the ATF, Ken Melson, to testify as to how this happened, as Democratic members of the committee requested? The answer is no. Did the committee call former Attorney General Mukasey, who was briefed on the botched effort to coordinate arms interdiction with Mexico in 2007? The answer is no.
Instead, the majority members demanded more internal deliberative documents from the Department of Justice after the Grassley letter had been sent. Instead, the committee leadership made an ever-escalating series of allegations regarding the involvement of the White House, documented in YouTube videos and news clips viewed on the Internet, which were subsequently withdrawn. The committee leadership has refused the Attorney General's offer to resolve the conflict.
The President has now claimed executive privilege over a very narrow group of documents from the Department of Justice in response to Chairman Issa's threat to hold the Attorney General in contempt of Congress. This is the first time the President has claimed executive privilege, in sharp contrast to recent previous Presidents who used the claim on numerous occasions in similar circumstances.
Should the House continue to pursue this irresponsible action, it is likely that it would lead to many years of judicial action and would, of course, further poison the highly charged partisan atmosphere leading up to the elections and critical decisions regarding the Federal budget and all of the other things that we really seriously need to deal with.
So I join with others who are asking the Speaker, who are imploring this House not to take such an irresponsible vote, not to take an irresponsible action, but to sit with the Attorney General, and let's resolve the conflict between the House and the executive branch. That's what reasonable people would do.