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Recommending that Attorney General Eric Holder Be Found in Contempt of Congress

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. CONNOLLY of Virginia. Mr. Speaker, the 112th Congress is on the verge of becoming the first in the history of the country to hold a sitting Cabinet member in contempt, cementing its legacy as the most partisan House of Representatives perhaps of all time. When they say it's not about politics, you can be sure it's about politics.

The majority's irresponsible and unprecedented contempt vote brings dishonor to this House, which has become so clouded in judgment, so besotted with rancor and partisanship, that it's incapable of addressing a fundamental separation of powers conflict in a serious and fair fashion.

In refusing to engage in good-faith negotiations with the Department of Justice and the Attorney General, the majority has exposed this contempt citation for what it really is: an extraordinarily shameful political witch hunt aimed at trashing an honorable man.

It is unacceptable that we are rushing to the floor this unprecedented contempt resolution. Yesterday, Ranking Member Cummings sent a letter to the Speaker highlighting 100 errors, omissions, and mischaracterizations of fact contained in the contempt citation itself, rushed out of our committee last week on a party-line vote.

Although some of the contempt citation's flaws are simply misleading, others are significant legal deficiencies and may contain factual errors that call into question the very validity of the contempt citation itself.

For example, on pages 4 and 5, the contempt citation charges that senior officials at the Department of Justice headquarters ``ultimately approved and authorized'' Operation Fast and Furious. However, the contempt citation fails to mention that the committee has uncovered no evidence that DOJ officials, including the Attorney General, ever approved or authorized gunwalking in Operation Fast and Furious. In fact, the authorization originated at the ATF office in Phoenix, Arizona, not at DOJ headquarters in Washington.

On pages 16, 17, 19, 20, 21, 22, 25, 26, and 27, the contempt citation charges DOJ with not producing a series of documents that the chairman only recently acknowledged the Department is prohibited by law from providing due to the potential impact on ongoing prosecutions.


Mr. CONNOLLY of Virginia. In fact, he had to amend his own subpoenas to delete documents in this very category. But his contempt citation has not caught up with his most recent version of his subpoena.

Clearly, the majority has not taken the necessary time to properly weigh this very serious charge. Regrettably, this deeply flawed and shoddy contempt citation is emblematic of the majority's reckless rush to judgment throughout this political prosecution.

I have been deeply troubled by the tone and tenor of some of the very hostile questioning and the utter and complete contempt and lack of respect given to the Attorney General of the United States.

When this chapter of congressional history is written, it will not be a brave, shining moment. It will be seen for what it is: a craven, crass, partisan move that brings dishonor to this body.


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