House holds Holder in contempt over ‘Fast and Furious’ documents

Democrats also tried to force the matter back into Mr. Issa’s committee, but the House defeated that motion.

At issue is the oversight committee’s investigation into Fast and Furious, an operation intended to track sales of U.S. guns and watch the guns be shipped across the border to a Mexican drug cartel. But the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) lost track of the roughly 2,000 weapons after they were sold.

Some of the guns eventually began showing up at crime scenes, including two that were recovered at the site of a 2010 Arizona shootout that left Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry dead.

Mr. Holder shut down the operation, but his efforts to clean up after it have come under scrutiny. The Justice Department initially told Congress that it never knowingly lost track of guns. After whistleblowers made clear that the guns had been lost, Mr. Holder retracted that claim some 10 months later.

The Justice Department turned over documents about the gunwalking operation, but has refused to turn over documents about how it handled the false information it provided to Congress. Last week, Mr. Obama asserted executive privilege, arguing that those documents are protected by precedent that governs internal deliberations.

Democrats said they aren’t defending the gunwalking operation, but that the committee should leave Mr. Holder alone.

Republicans said they have issued a valid subpoena and that Mr. Holder is stonewalling. They said they are trying to hold the administration accountable and to try to get answers for the Terry family.

Mr. Issa closed out the contempt debate by speaking in front of a giant poster of the agent in his Border Patrol uniform. The representative said he was trying to remind his colleagues of the human cost of the gunwalking operation.

“We were lied to repeatedly, and over a 10-month period,” Mr. Issa said. “That is what we’re here for.”

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