Holder? Prosecuted? White House says forget it
The Department of Justice will
not prosecute Attorney General Eric Holder after the Republican-led
House of Representatives voted to hold him in contempt of Congress, the
White House said Friday.
"Prosecutions will not take place
in this circumstance," spokesman Jay Carney told reporters aboard Air
Force One as President Barack Obama headed to wildfire-ravaged Colorado.
Carney dismissed the contempt vote, which grew out of Holder's refusal
to turn over Justice Department documents tied to the Fast and Furious
operation, as "pure politics."
The department sent House Speak John Boehner a letter underlining this point,
saying it won't bring Holder's contempt citation before a federal grand
jury nor will it pursue any other actions to prosecute him.
The Fast and Furious operation
aimed to track how firearms sold in America end up in the hands of
Mexican drug cartels. Agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and
Firearms (ATF) in Arizona observed suspected straw buyers purchasing
weapons, but lost track of many of the guns involved. Two of the
weapons were later recovered at the scene of U.S. Border Patrol agent
Brian Terry's fatal shooting.Republicans
have accused the ATF of "gun-walking," in which guns are deliberately
allowed to flow to suspected criminals. The tactic has come to be
associated with Fast and Furious, though a recent Fortune Magazine
investigation cast doubt on whether it was ever part of that operation, and suggested that the ATF's inability to curtail weapons flows stemmed from lax gun laws.
Carney noted that Obama had invoked executive privilege over the documents sought by Republicans in Congress.
"It is an established principle,
dating back to the administration of President Ronald Reagan, that the
Justice Department does not pursue prosecution in a contempt case when
the president has asserted executive privilege. The assertion of
executive privilege makes the contempt matter moot, if you will," he
So what's next for Eric Holder?
"He's going to continue his excellent work as attorney general of the
United States," Carney said.
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