This much is clear: Attorney General Eric Holder and Rep. Darrell Issa don't like each other.
The attorney general accused the Republican lawmaker of “unacceptable and shameful" conduct as frustrations boiled over in a heated exchange that drew gasps from a packed congressional committee room on Wednesday.
"No – I'm not going to stop talking now," Holder said at one point, as Issa dismissed his answers and sought to pivot to a new line of questioning.
Amid crosstalk, Holder declared: “The way you conduct yourself as a member of Congress is unacceptable and shameful.”
The verbal battle came as Holder appeared before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday for a previously scheduled oversight hearing that came as multiple scandals have enveloped the Obama administration, including the Justice Department seizure phone records from the Associated Press.
Issa and Holder have an icy relationship, to say the least. Last year, Issa, a California Republican, led the charge to hold Holder in contempt of Congress. The contempt – the first time such a sanction had been leveled against a sitting cabinet member – was clearly fresh in Holder’s mind, as he quasi-restrained himself, saying, “I won’t characterize it – the contempt finding of this Congress.”
Issa began his questions on Wednesday by playing an audio tape of one of Holder’s deputies, Tom Perez. It was a move ripped from the same playbook that Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Tex., used during now-Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s confirmation hearing.
When Holder began a long-winded answer one of Issa’s questions, Issa quickly butted in.
"I need a yes or a no before you go into the long dialogue, otherwise I'm wasting my time."
The Issa-Holder exchange did not appear to reveal any new information other than just how frayed their relationship is.