Washington, DC – House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa issued the following statement on the Committee’s approval of a report finding Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress over his refusal to produce documents related to Operation Fast and Furious. The Committee today approved the finding of contempt on a vote of 23 to 17.
“The President’s assertion of Executive Privilege this morning took us by surprise but did not alter the Committee’s conclusion that documents had been inappropriately withheld. Executive Privilege only applies to materials that directly pertain to communications with the President and his senior advisors. This assertion indicates that the White House’s role in Operation Fast and Furious and the response to whistleblower accusations has been greater than previously acknowledged. Just yesterday, the Attorney General indicated a willingness to produce a small subset of documents on the condition that the Committee end its investigation before they were described or made available for review. Today, the President asserted Executive Privilege to ensure they are never produced.
“At the heart of the Congressional investigation into Operation Fast and Furious are disastrous consequences: a murdered Border Patrol Agent, his grieving family seeking answers, countless deaths in Mexico, and the souring effect on our relationship with Mexico. Congress has not just a right, but an obligation to do all that it can to uncover exactly what happened and ensure that it never occurs again. After the Justice Department’s earlier false denial of reckless conduct, the Committee has a duty to pursue all options to gather and evaluate key evidence.
“I still believe that a settlement, rendering the process of contempt unnecessary, is in the best interest of the Justice Department, Congress, and those most directly affected by Operation Fast and Furious. I urge Attorney General Holder and President Obama to reconsider their decision to withhold documents that would allow Congress to complete its investigation.”