It is no surprise that America has lost faith in its chief law enforcement officer, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. The high-profile scandals at Mr. Holder’s Department of Justice are serious enough to warrant firing the attorney general. As the chief law enforcement official of our nation, Mr. Holder is expected to comply with the highest standards of ethics, competence and honesty. He is to follow the principle of seeking justice. As a sworn federal official, he has one primary job — to enforce the laws of the United States fairly and impartially. Instead, Mr. Holder has overlooked actual injustices, and has acted less than ethically and honestly.
Let us start with Operation Fast and Furious — the government-sanctioned gunrunning scandal that led to disaster and tragedy, including hundreds of killings. After Mr. Holder failed to provide information to Congress about the scandal, the House of Representatives voted to hold him in contempt of Congress. To this day Mr. Holder remains in contempt and has failed to produce the records the American people are entitled to see. For an administration that promised a new era of transparency, its secrecy and obstructionism has turned from hypocritical to ironic.
The Holder Department of Justice arguably endangered freedom of the press when it sought records of The Associated Press and targeted journalist James Rosen. Mr. Holder even approved the seizure of records for more than 20 telephone lines assigned to the AP and its journalists in April and May of 2012. Mr. Holder himself signed the subpoena for Mr. Rosen’s records, despite testifying to a committee that he did not know of such targeting. Some contend Mr. Holder committed perjury. He might also have condoned using drone strikes within the United States against U.S. citizens but for Sen. Rand Paul bringing this issue to the forefront. Keep in mind it was a letter, from the attorney general, that didn’t rule out drone strikes against U.S. citizens on American soil that started Mr. Paul’s filibuster.
In light of these scandals, my opinion is that Mr. Holder’s tenure has gone from bad to worse. The flagrant abuses directly administered by the Justice Department makes it incredibly clear that the time is long overdue for Mr. Holder to resign. A responsible chief executive would have fired him long ago. No one is above the law, including Eric Holder.
There has been a groundswell of support from Congress and millions of Americans across the country to remove Mr. Holder and appoint someone who will restore confidence in the Justice Department. Currently, 137 House members have co-sponsored my resolution expressing no confidence in the attorney general and calling for his immediate resignation. Many others in Congress have independently called for his resignation. It is time for Mr. Holder to heed those calls. If we, as citizens, did what Mr. Holder has done, we would be thrown in jail. When Mr. Holder or any government official is exempted from the law, we create a two-tiered justice system that leaves government officials immune from prosecution and licensed to act without restraint. This is the hallmark of totalitarian regimes, not the America our Founders envisioned.
The list of transgressions proves Mr. Holder has done wrong, and he should be held personally accountable for both his actions as well as those of the Justice Department.
This list includes, but is by no means limited to:
Fast and Furious: The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Justice Department, led by Mr. Holder, was responsible for selling guns to Mexican drug cartels. Some of those guns were later found at the murder scenes of at least two U.S. federal law enforcement officers and hundreds of innocent Mexican civilians.
Contempt of Congress: Mr. Holder was held in contempt of Congress in 2012 for failing to fully cooperate with a congressional investigation into Operation Fast and Furious.
AP probe: In possibly the greatest attack on the free press in decades, the Justice Department obtained large numbers of phone records from The Associated Press.
More press persecution — In an unprecedented fashion, Mr. Holder’s DOJ also targeted Fox News’ Mr. Rosen when it seized phone records and emails.
Potential perjury: Mr. Holder may have lied to Congress in his May 15 House Judiciary Committee testimony when discussing the authorization for wiretaps and search warrants.
What we have is an attorney general of convenience rather than an attorney general of the law. Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis once said, “In a government of laws, the existence of the government will be imperiled if it fails to observe the law scrupulously. Our government is the potent, the omnipotent teacher. For good or ill, it teaches the whole people by its example. If government becomes a lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for law. It invites every man to become a law unto himself. It invites anarchy.”
The rule of law provides a necessary framework for civil society.
Today, it is certainly true that Mr. Holder shows a dangerous indifference and contempt for the rule of law. The American people need an attorney general who will restore credibility at the Department of Justice and respect the rule of law. Mr. Holder should do what is best for the country and resign immediately.
Paul A. Gosar is a Republican congressman from Arizona.