House Panel Pursues Another Contempt Charge Against Holder

House Panel Pursues Another Contempt Charge Against Holder

Lawmakers call for Attorney General Eric Holder to turn over Fast and Furious documents or be fined and/or jailed.

Published October 6, 2014

Updated: Tuesday, Oct. 7, 4:20 p.m.

It would have been House vs. Holder again as lawmakers pursued another court case against Attorney General Eric Holder. Unfortunately for the GOP members of the House Oversight Committee, the judge said no.

House lawyers late last week filed a motion calling for Holder to be held in contempt and fined personally if he doesn't comply with an order issued in August by U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson to turn over by Oct. 1 non-privileged documents related to Operation Fast and Furious. They also suggested that it might be appropriate to jail Holder if he doesn't comply with the order.

"Should the Court determine that the Attorney General has violated that Order, the Court should impose on the Attorney General an appropriate penalty to coerce his compliance with the August 20 Order, including an escalating daily monetary fine against Eric H. Holder, Jr., to be paid by Mr. Holder out of his personal assets, converting to incarceration if the payment of daily monetary fines does not produce compliance within a reasonable period of time,” wrote House Counsel Kerry Kircher and other attorneys in the motion.

In an order issued Monday, the Associated Press reports, Berman rejected the effort as "entirely unnecessary." She also ordered the Justice Department to produce the documents at the center of the dispute by Nov. 3.

The House voted in 2012 to hold Holder in contempt of Congress when he refused to turn over about 1,500 pages of documents related to the failed gun-tracking program. During the vote, members of the Congressional Black Caucus led a walk off the House floor in protest.

With Congress out of session until after November's midterm elections, the committee's Democrats had no say in this latest move. They also are questioning why Republicans are now objecting to a request Holder made for a deadline extension that they had earlier indicated would not be a problem.

"Democrats were not consulted on this strange motion and do not know why Republicans now think an extension should not apply. This appears to be a desperate reaction to the attorney general's decision to retire, and Republican references to jailing [him] are patently ridiculous," an aide to Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings, the panel's ranking Democrat, told BET.com.

Holder announced in September plans to step down, but has agreed to stay in office until a new attorney general is confirmed.

Follow Joyce Jones on Twitter: @BETpolitichick.

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 (Photo: Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images)

Written by Joyce Jones

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