In a bipartisan vote of 255 to 67, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has been found in contempt of Congress by the House of Representatives for failing to turn over subpoenaed documents in the congressional investigation of the Fast and Furious operation. The operation was conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE), which instructed firearms dealers to allow suspected "straw-purchasers" to purchase guns under the full assumption that the firearms would end up in the hands of the Mexican drug cartels. Of the 2,000 weapons purchased as part of the operation, many have begun to turn up at crimes scenes both in Mexico and in the U.S., including at the scenes of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry and ICE agent Jamie Zapata's murders. The vast majority of the firearms remain at large.
Thursday's vote comes a week after President Obama invoked Executive Privilege over the documents requested by Congress, leading to questions as to the extent of the President's involvement in the Fast and Furious scandal.
"It is unfortunate this vote had to come to the House floor," U.S. Representative Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo) said. "We gave Attorney General Holder a chance to come clean and produce the documents that we need to give the Terry family and American people the answers they deserve. He failed to produce the documents. I'm pleased to see a bipartisan House holding Mr. Holder accountable."
This marks the first time a U.S. Attorney General has been held in contempt of Congress. The contempt citation now goes to the U.S. Attorney's office in Washington, DC for enforcement.