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BY A LARGE MARGIN
by Sharon Rondeau
(Jun. 28, 2012) — Two final votes on criminal and civil contempt, respectively, passed the U.S. House of Representatives this afternoon against putative Attorney General Eric Holder. The votes contained 255 yeas, 67 nays and one voting “not present.”
The criminal contempt measure was numbered House Resolution 711, and the civil contempt resolution was HR 706.
Last week there had been some doubt as to whether or not Speaker of the House John Boehner supported the resolution, but a statement made before today’s vote asked that House members “come together and to support this resolution so that we can seek the answers that the Terry family and the American people deserve,” referring to Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, who was killed by two U.S. firearms which ended up in the hands of criminals. “The House needs to know how this happened, and it is our constitutional duty to find out,” Boehner said.
Holder was held in both criminal and civil contempt of Congress for refusing to turn over documents related to Fast & Furious, an alleged program to track the movement of firearms to Mexican drug cartels. At least two of the guns used in the operation were found beside slain U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry on December 14, 2010.
Last Wednesday, Obama invoked executive privilege over the documents which the House Oversight & Government Reform Committee demanded, which had voted later that day to cite Holder for contempt. Rep. Darrell Issa, chairman of the committee, has been granted authority to file a lawsuit in federal court to obtain access to the documents they had sought in two subpoenas issued last fall.
Prior to the committee vote on June 20, Holder had suggested that he might turn over some of the requested documents, but the Justice Department and Issa were unable to come to an agreement.
A report on the votes today appears on a website established to update the American public on the Fast & Furious investigation, but it has not yet been updated to reflect the second vote of civil contempt against Holder.