In 2008, Eric Holder began his association with then-candidate Barack Obama as the senior legal advisor for the eventual president’s election campaign.
Fast forward to today, and Eric Holder is now the President’s Attorney General, one of only 82 men to hold that post since our nation’s founding. He’s also facing contempt charges in the US House of Representatives – something that none of the other 81 AGs had ever even dreamed of.
The charges stem from Holder’s involvement in a ham-fisted attempt to stop Mexican drug cartels by giving them guns from the US?! Now I know what you’re thinking: “Those are probably trick guns that will blow up when the criminals try to shoot them, cleaning up the streets and saving the taxpayers money in the process!”
Nope. They’re actually real guns that work just fine. Well, at least they work well enough to kill US Border Patrol agents.
In 2010, agent Brian Terry was shot and killed by illegal immigrants using a weapon linked to “Operation Fast and Furious” – the code name given to the gun-walking scheme that’s landed Holder and President Obama in hot water. The current congressional investigation into Fast and Furious was prompted by Terry’s death, and the operation quickly ballooned into a full-blown public scandal after another US law enforcement agent named Jaime Zapata was killed by a Fast and Furious gun while in Mexico.
But in response to the public outcry over the pea-brained operation and congressional probing into additional failures by the Attorney General’s office, Eric Holder has clammed up. House Oversight Committee Chairman Darell Issa has been repeatedly asking for Holder to turn over documents related to the disaster in order to assess what level of involvement (and responsibility) the Attorney General had. Perhaps fearing that the release of the documents would damage his reputation, Holder turned to President Obama for protection.
The President obliged, invoking “executive privilege” (the same rule Richard Nixon used during Watergate to try to hide the scandal) to prevent the documents’ release. Representative Issa warned Holder that he would issue contempt proceedings if he didn’t hand over the papers. Today, he followed through on the threat.
What does this mean for Holder, and possibly the President? Here’s the Independent Journal Review‘s take on it:
[T]he entire House of Representatives will soon vote on whether or not to officially hold him in contempt. Only a simple majority is needed for the resolution to pass. Holder still has the option of supplying the requested documents.
If the measure passes through the House, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia would convene a grand jury to decide whether or not to indict Holder.
If convicted, Holder would be looking at a maximum sentence of one year in prison, but on a larger scale, Obama’s image would take a massive hit. His invocation of the executive privilege over the documents already looks shady to many, and if this continues and Holder is indicted, Obama will look like nothing more than a criminal.
That is, of course, if the indictment Mr. Issa’s committee made passes at all. I think the more likely outcome will consist of Holder surrendering the documents, and in any case Republicans are eager to getting back to work on a much bigger challenge – picking up President Obama’s slack on the economy.
But hey, if Holder and Obama want to play hardball, so can we. Just another thing to watch for in the weeks to come.