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June 15, 2012

Holder offers to meet with Rep. Issa


U.S. Representative Darrell Issa (R-CA). (UPI Photo/Shauneil Scott)

WASHINGTON (UPI) -- U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder Thursday offered to meet with Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., amid an outcry from Democrats over a contempt vote against Holder.

Holder wrote a letter to the Republican chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee offering a Monday meeting to discuss the Justice Department's knowledge of the "gun walking" operation dubbed "Fast and Furious," The Hill reported.

"We believe that this briefing, and the documents we are prepared to provide, which will include information you have requested regarding whistleblowers -- will fully address the remaining concerns identified in the recent letters to me from you and House Leadership," Holder's letter said.

Issa has threatened to hold Holder in contempt of Congress if he fails to comply with a subpoena seeking Justice Department documents about the botched gun-tracking operation. A committee vote on the contempt measure is set for Wednesday, The Hill said.

Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., decried the contempt threat, calling it an "extreme and blatant abuse of the congressional contempt power that undermines the credibility of the committee" and asserting it would be illegal for Holder to turn over the requested documents.

"These dissenting views conclude that the contempt citation, as circulated by the chairman, is irresponsible, unprecedented and contrary to the rule of law," the committee's Democratic minority wrote.

"It would hold the attorney general in contempt not only for complying with statutes passed by Congress that require him to protect documents from disclosure, but also for withholding documents relating to ongoing criminal investigations that have been protected consistently by Democratic and Republican administrations to safeguard the lives of informants and ensure the integrity of active criminal investigations."

"Chairman Issa has stated that if a contempt vote occurs, it will focus on the failure to provide documents from after February 4, 2011, a date after the criminal investigation ended and the Justice Department made a false denial about reckless tactics," Issa spokesperson Becca Watkins told Politico.

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