In true Republican style, Republicans played their favorite game of witch hunt on Wednesday against their number two enemy, Attorney General Eric Holder. The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) convened the committee to vote on holding Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress for the Justice Department’s refusal to produce additional documents related to “Operation Fast and Furious.” “Fast and Furious” is a botched sting operation involving guns in Mexico which landed in the hands of the Mexican Cartel and resulted in a US Border agent getting killed. Attorney General Holder produced almost 8,000 documents and offered to brief Republicans on the documents but that did not satisfy them. Republicans want his head on a plate along with additional documents. That’s how this game is played.
President Obama invoked his first Executive Privilege to withhold the documents from Congress. Extraordinary demands call for extraordinary action. Of course, that didn’t stop Republicans, who are not known for doing anything that the President commands. Although President Obama invoked Executive Privilege, Republicans still chose to proceed full steam. The Committee voted along party lines and recommended to cite Attorney General Holder in contempt. The full Congress must vote on the recommendation. Republicans promise a vote as soon as next week.
Some legal scholars will consider all of this a great big waste of time due to Executive Privilege asserted by the President. Republicans are hoping for the full Congress to cite Attorney General Holder in contempt and then for the Justice Department to charge him with a crime. Attorney General Holder stated that the actions of the Committee are “an election year tactic intended to distract attention from the issues facing the country.” Rep. Issa has led the Committee into political theatre to take extraordinary, unprecedented and entirely unnecessary action against the Attorney General. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called Rep. Issa a “loose cannon” and says the contempt proceedings undermine the purpose of contempt of Congress. Senator Carolyn Maloney (D. NY) stated the GOP has denigrated to tarnish the Attorney General and the President in an election year. In a nation that is already polarized, Rep. Issa and Republicans seek to further take us to the bottom of the sea.
House Republicans now appear obsessed with the Fast and Furious documents instead of the economy and jobs for the American people. Even Mitt Romney would probably agree, albeit in private, that this latest Republican distraction is an unacceptable one and not working for anyone.
Meanwhile, there are two looming deadlines fast approaching which will require immediate attention of Congress. On June 30, the Transportation bill and student loan bill are set to expire. Federal highway funding is at stake and the fate of federal subsidized student loan rates. This means that Congress must move quickly if it wants to keep student loan rates at 3.4% instead of jumping to 6.8%. Millions of students and their parents will be faced with rising costs if Congress doesn’t act. None of that seems to matter to the GOP who is too consumed with playing games with Attorney General Holder than to work on the country’s problems.
I was always taught that you do homework before you go out to play. This is not the rule that the Republicans are working by. Work is not their strong suit. Every game has winners and losers. The real losers in this latest Republican game are the American people who do not have a working Republican controlled Congress. Although, Republicans may fancy themselves as winners, there are no real winners in this game—-only losers.
Washington, DC based Debbie Hines is a former prosecutor and founder of LegalSpeaks, a progressive blog on women and race in law and politics. As a legal and political commentator she has appeared in national and local media including the Michael Eric Dyson Show, NBC, ABC and CBS affiliates, RT TV, CBC- Canadian TV, NPR, XM Sirius radio, the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, USA Today, Black Enterprise among others. She also writes for the Huffington Post.