House Republicans plan to press on with consideration Wednesday by the Oversight and Government Reform Committee of a vote to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress regarding a stand-off over documents tied to the botched "Fast and Furious" sting operation.
The announcement Tuesday night by committee chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., followed a closed-door meeting at the Capitol between Issa and other Republican and Democratic lawmakers with Holder at the U.S. Capitol. Issa described himself as disappointed and still hoping for a breakthrough.
"I had hoped that after this evening's meeting I would be able to tell you that the Department had delivered documents that would justify the postponement of tomorrow's vote on contempt," said Issa, in a statement.
Issa claimed the Justice Department had told the Committee last Thursday that it had documents it could produce that would answer our questions.
Holder, speaking in the Capitol Rotunda to reporters, said he had come "in good faith" and that he had made a number of documents, specifically those from February to December of 2011, available.
Asked if he thought he and his department could avoid the contempt vote, Holder said, "The ball's in their court."
But Issa said, "Today, the Attorney General informed us that the Department would not be producing those documents. The only offer they made involved us ending our investigation."
"While I still hope the Department will reconsider its decision so tomorrow's vote can be postponed, after this meeting I cannot say that I am optimistic. At this point, we simply do not have the documents we have repeatedly said we need to justify the postponement of a contempt vote in committee," said Issa.
Under the "Fast and Furious" operation, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms sold thousands of weapons to gun traffickers with the intention of then tracing those guns to Mexican drug cartels. But the operation went sour when the ATF lost track of many of the weapons, including ones later linked to the killings of Border Patrol agent Brian Terry and as many as 300 Mexicans.
For more than a year, Issa has been leading a congressional investigation into failed gun-trafficking operation. Late last year, he issued a subpoena to Holder seeking communications regarding the operation from top Justice officials, documents and information shared with the White House and relating to the death of Terry and others, and any efforts to keep some information covered-up.