Attorney General Eric Holder testified at a hearing in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday afternoon, discussing voter laws, the New York Times’ national security leaks, and, of course, Operation Fast and Furious. It was more of the same, as Democrats came to Mr. Holder’s defense while the Republicans tried to pry out direct answers to withering questions.
Wisconsin Senator Herb Kohl asked Mr. Holder if he would consider serving a second term. He replied, “I’ve stuck by my guns.” Yes, the attorney general whose Department of Justice is responsible for walking 2500 guns into the hands of Mexican drug cartels used that phrase. This operation was responsible for the murder of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry on American soil and over 300 Mexicans in Mexico.
Mr. Holder told Senator Charles Grassley the DOJ has reached out to House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa and will make compromises to make the subpoenaed documents available. Just yesterday, Chairman Issa informed everyone the committee will hold a vote on contempt charges next Wednesday. Mr. Holder also said he is offering to sit down with Chairman Issa and Speaker John Boehner to avoid a “constitutional crisis,” i.e. contempt charges.
“I want to make it very clear that I am offering to sit down, by myself, offering to sit down with the Speaker, with the chairman, with whomever,” Mr. Holder stated, “to try to work our way through this in an attempt to avoid a constitutional crisis and come up with way, creative ways, perhaps, in which we can make this material available.”
Just last week before the House Judiciary Committee, Representative Jason Chaffetz asked Mr. Holder to meet with members of Congress to discuss documents and Mr. Holder flat out said no.
Later in the hearing, Mr. Holder corrected himself. He said he should have called the issues with the Oversight committee a constitutional conflict instead of a constitutional “crisis.”
Democrats were satisfied with the idea of appointing two U.S. attorneys instead of special counsel to probe into recent leaks of national security secrets, but Republicans voiced their displeasure. Even Senator Lindsey Graham had some bones to pick with Mr. Holder. He expressed that he couldn’t understand the downside to appointing special counsel. During the Valerie Plame affair, the Democrats advised the White House and DOJ to appoint special counsel instead of using US attorneys. Senator Graham wanted to know why special counsel was good enough for those leaks but not these national leaks. He told Mr. Holder then-Senator Obama and Biden even agreed on special counsel for the investigation.
As reported earlier, Texas Senator John Cornyn told Mr. Holder he should resign. When it was his turn to ask questions, he wanted to talk about Mr. Holder’s track record. Mr. Holder tried to interrupt, but Senator Cornyn told him to stop filibustering his time. Senator Cornyn reminded Mr. Holder how he misled Congress in February 2011, misled Congress in May 2011 by lying about when he really found out about Fast & Furious, and how he claims ATF wiretap applications don’t contain any information about gunwalking tactics. He also told Mr. Holder he has a problem with him not appointing special counsel regarding the national security leaks out of the White House and how the DOJ is opposing states’ actions to prevent voter fraud.
“So, Mr. Attorney General, it is more with sorrow than regret and anger that I would say you leave me no alternative but to join those who have called upon you to resign your office,” Senator Cornyn said.