The attorney general Eric Holder is the first sitting member of a president’s cabinet in US history to be held in contempt of Congress after Republicans vented their fury over a gun-tracking investigation, says The Guardian.
The politically and constitutionally charged dispute centered on whether the Justice Department must turn over e-mails and memorandums showing its internal deliberations last year about the botched Arizona-based gunrunning investigation known as Operation Fast and Furious. President Obama has invoked executive privilege to block the subpoena, reported The New York Times.
Seventeen Democrats, under pressure from the pro-gun lobby NRA, joined 238 Republicans to carry a criminal contempt resolution against Holder. A currently serving attorney general has never before been censured in this way, The Guardian reported.
The criminal contempt resolution, passed by 255 to 67, with most Democrats walking out of the chamber en masse before the vote, related to Operation Fast and Furious, a federal investigation launched in Arizona designed to ensnare gun smugglers involved with the Mexican drug cartels.
The contempt citation, which doesn’t need Senate approval, now goes to the U.S. attorney in Washington to determine whether criminal prosecution is warranted, reported Business Week.