U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said Thursday that House Republicans had “engineered” a contempt vote against him and were not really interested in investigating the Fast and Furious scandal.
“Today’s vote is the regrettable culmination of what became a misguided – and politically motivated – investigation during an election year,” he said. “By advancing it over the past year and a half, Congressman Issa and others have focused on politics over public safety. Instead of trying to correct the problems that led to a series of flawed law enforcement operations, and instead of helping us find ways to better protect the brave law enforcement officers, like Agent Brian Terry, who keep us safe – they have led us to this unnecessary and unwarranted outcome.”
In an unprecedented move, the House voted 255-67 in support of a criminal contempt resolution against Holder. Seventeen Democrats voted along with a majority of Republicans. But dozens of other Democrats, led by the Congressional Black Caucus, walked off the House floor in protest of the vote.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ (ATF) allegedly sold thousands of assault rifles and revolvers to traffickers suspected of being linked to Mexican drug cartels with the intent of tracking the firearms. However, a six-month investigation by Fortune magazine, which reviewed more than 2,000 pages of confidential ATF documents, raised serious doubts about those allegations.
Holder noted that when news of the Fast and Furious operation first became known to the public, he had quickly ordered an independent investigation. He accused members of Congress of being unwilling to work with the Justice Department to find “real solutions to the terrible problem of violence on both sides of our Southwest Border.”
“Today’s vote may make for good political theater in the minds of some, but it is – at base – both a crass effort and a grave disservice to the American people,” Holder added. “They expect – and deserve – far better.”
“As a result of the action taken today by the House, an unnecessary court conflict will ensue. My efforts to resolve this matter short of such a battle were rebuffed by Congressman Issa and his supporters. It’s clear that they were not interested in bringing an end to this dispute or obtaining the information they claimed to seek. Ultimately, their goal was the vote that – with the help of special interests – they now have engineered.”