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Smith Votes to Hold AG Holder in Contempt


Location: Washington, DC

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) today voted in support of a resolution to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress. The House approved the contempt resolution by a vote of 255-67.

Chairman Smith: "Today's vote to hold Attorney General Holder in contempt of Congress is unprecedented, but unfortunately so are the obstructionist actions of this Justice Department. The Attorney General continues to put himself above the law by refusing to cooperate with legitimate congressional inquiries.

"For more than a year and a half, this Administration has blocked inquiries and delayed responses about what really happened in Operation Fast & Furious. The President's recent assertion of Executive Privilege covers communication between top Executive staff. The Administration cannot claim that top officials were not aware of the program and then assert this privilege. They can't have it both ways. Either no senior staff was aware of Fast & Furious, in which case Executive Privilege does not apply; or senior staff was aware, which means the Administration has not been truthful with Congress.

"Congress has a constitutional duty to conduct legitimate oversight of the Administration's actions, especially when those actions contribute to the death of a U.S. citizen. The Attorney General's attempts to block our investigation are irresponsible and undermine the balance of powers on which our nation was founded. It is disappointing that the Attorney General has refused to fulfill his duty to Congress. And since he refuses to comply, we have no choice but to hold him in contempt of Congress and move to challenge his actions in federal court."

Background: Today. the House of Representatives voted to hold the Attorney General in criminal contempt of Congress for his failure to respond to a subpoena issued by the Oversight and Government Reform Committee. The contempt of Congress resolution is now referred to the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia for prosecution. Later today the House will vote to authorize the Oversight & Government Reform Committee to go to court to enforce its subpoena.

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