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Mr. CUMMINGS. Mr. Speaker, it's interesting here today, what we just did with regard to the criminal contempt. I do believe that it is very unfortunate, and let me tell you why. We have an Attorney General who is indeed an honorable man. We who practice law look up to the Attorney General and any U.S. Attorney. They are folks like us who are well educated and who love their country. And Eric Holder, Jr., is no exception.
Over and over again, he has tried to cooperate with this committee. And I'm sure that both sides--his side and our side--have become a little frustrated at times. But as he said in a meeting a couple of weeks ago, he said that he's willing to give the documents, but he was asking that at some point his attorneys have an opportunity to get back to work.
Now, Leader Pelosi said something a moment ago that we should not lose sight of, Mr. Speaker, when she spoke about the Constitution and that it requires Congress and the executive branch to avoid unnecessary conflicts and to seek accommodations that serve both of their interests. In the words of Attorney General William French Smith, under President Reagan:
It is the obligation of each branch to make a principled effort to acknowledge and, if possible, to meet the legitimate needs of the other branch.
I believe that this Attorney General has bent over backwards trying to accommodate us, trying to provide the information, but at the same time, as he has said to us many times, to protect the institution of the Attorney General of the United States. And when I say protect the institution, I mean protect the institution, the same types of things that have assertions of executive privilege, making sure that wiretap applications are not made public, making sure that confidential informants are not disclosed, making sure that ongoing investigations are not interfered with.
And I'm not sure, but there may be something that happened--we're not sure; we're checking on it--happened in this House already today, something that may have interfered with the trial already.
So as I close, I would submit that he has done the very best that he could, and now we need to meet him halfway.
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