Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) on Wednesday condemned a House committee’s vote to hold Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. in contempt of Congress for failing to comply with a subpoena for documents in a gun-tracking case.
In a statement released by his office following the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee’s vote -- which fell along strict party lines, with the 23 Republicans voting in favor and 17 Democrats opposed -- Schiff said use of Congress’ contempt power should be “jealously guarded,” otherwise “it becomes nothing more than a rhetorical tool of partisan warfare and a paper tiger.”
“I urge the House leadership to step back from this needless and destructive process, and join the attorney general at the negotiating table so this issue can be resolved in a timely way,” Schiff said.
Members of Congress have been calling for documents in the Fast and Furious program, but President Obama asserted executive privilege and backed up the attorney general’s position in refusing to turn over the material.
The vote for contempt and the White House insertion into the growing Southwest border “gun-walking” scandal set up a significant constitutional clash between the two branches of the federal government, one that ultimately may not be resolved until it reaches the courts, according to The Times.
“The committee has taken the deeply ill-considered step of voting to hold the attorney general in contempt. Given the Attorney General’s willingness to provide a wide range of documents not generally made available to Congress – such as internal deliberations over communicating with a co-equal branch of government – it is hard to escape the conclusion that the Committee is more interested in a fight with the Attorney General than getting the information it seeks.
“The Fast and Furious investigation, which had its origin in a legitimate need to get to the bottom of a botched ‘gun walking’ operation has lost its way, and is now accomplishing nothing but doing damage to the institution of Congress,” Schiff said.
FULL COVERAGE/L.A. TIMES:
-- Jason Wells, Times Community News