WASHINGTON – People For the American Way issued the following statement following the party line vote by the House Oversight & Government Reform Committee engineered by Committee Chair Darrell Issa (R-CA) to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress. The Committee acted despite the Attorney General’s extensive efforts over the past several months to provide the Committee with the information it needed to conduct its investigation into Operation Fast and Furious.
“This is nothing more than a political witch hunt, perhaps best exemplified by the announcement of the NRA – which bizarrely sees the ‘Fast and Furious’ program as an effort to justify domestic gun control laws – that it would ‘score’ this contempt vote.” said Michael Keegan, President of People For the American Way. “To be sure, Congress has a legitimate interest in investigating Operation Fast and Furious, but Chairman Issa and Republican majority on the Committee appear to be more interested in scoring political points than in getting to the bottom of what happened.
“The hoops the Committee is demanding the Attorney General jump through illustrate that these contempt hearings are as partisan as they are extreme. Over the course of this ‘investigation,’ the Committee has ordered the A.G. to produce documents whose confidentiality is protected by federal law, has refused to subpoena Bush Administration officials to testify about their knowledge of the operation during their time in office, has refused to allow public testimony from officials whose testimony counters Issa’s partisan narrative, and has repeatedly rejected the A.G.’s efforts to accommodate the committee, making compliance all but impossible.
“Attorney General Holder should be commended for the courageous steps he has taken to bolster civil rights and liberties in this country. Unfortunately, these Oversight Committee hearings do nothing but distract from those critically important efforts and undermine the Justice Department’s essential function – to enforce the rule of law.”