(WASHINGTON) — Attorney General Eric Holder took a brief ride from the Department of Justice to the Capitol late Tuesday afternoon to meet with top lawmakers from both parties, trying to avoid an embarrassing contempt vote scheduled for Wednesday. But his proposal was quickly rejected by Congress’s own top cop.
Holder has faced a steady stream of criticism since news of the Fast and Furious operation broke from the chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Darrell Issa. He told reporters after their meeting that the Department of Justice had made an “unprecedented number of documents available” in order to lay out a plan that would bring a resolution to the standoff. Now, Holder says, the next move is up to Issa.
“There was no intention to mislead, or deceive. This is material that we think was not even called for in some of the…subpoenas that we have received. We nevertheless thought in good faith and as I said in an attempt to resolve this matter that we would make this material available,” Holder said. “The ball is in their court. They rejected what I thought was an extraordinary offer on our part. They have I guess until they decide. They have the ability to change their minds.”
The attorney general maintained that given the “extraordinary nature” of his department’s compliance, further friction with the committee would be “political gamesmanship.”
“Nevertheless we are prepared to provide these materials, to brief on these materials, to answer questions on these materials,” Holder said.
Afterwards, Issa told reporters that he was “disappointed” Holder had not provided committee investigators with documents or answers that the panel has long sought in the Fast and Furious gun walking probe, but he was holding out hope that the department would comply with his requests before Wednesday’s proceedings begin at 10:00 a.m.
“[Holder] came with an offer of a briefing. We went through the process of what was being offered and responded as I think we have to. Which is that the document that they may choose to give in the future, we need to have before tomorrow,” said Issa, a California Republican. “Ultimately, the documents necessary to cause a postponement appear to be in their possession. We’re hoping that we have them tonight. If we can evaluate them even partially, then that will give us grounds to negotiate a postponement and perhaps a final resolution.”
While the contempt vote appears to be on schedule, Issa hinted that he could still postpone it.
“The deadline will always move to the very last minute. We always want to be respectful that if we get the information or any information that allows us to rethink contempt and, in fact, make progress on behalf of Brian Terry’s family and the American people,” Issa said.
The chairman was referring to the U.S. Border Patrol officer who was killed by weapons Mexican criminals obtained through the operation.
“We have no hard deadlines,” Issa said. “We do have a markup marked up for tomorrow. If we receive no documents, we’ll go forward. If we receive documents, we’ll evaluate them, and we’ll take such time as is necessary in delay to be sure of the quality of these documents and whether they’re sufficient.”
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