(Photo: Reuters/Jeff Haynes)
The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will vote next week on whether to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress for not producing information related to the "Fast and Furious" investigation.
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) announced the scheduled vote in a press release Monday.
"Attorney General Holder has failed to meet his legal obligations pursuant to the October 12 subpoena," Issa wrote. "Specifically, the Justice Department has refused to turn over critical documents on the grounds that they show internal Department deliberations and were created after February 4, 2011 -- the date Justice issued a false denial to Congress. Contempt will focus on the failure to provide these post February 4th documents."
The statement also said that the contempt vote will be unnecessary if Holder produces the documents related to information the committee obtained from an unnamed whistleblower.
The Department of Justice responded Monday afternoon to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee's announcement, saying that the contempt threat is unwarranted.
"From the beginning, Chairman Issa has distorted the facts, ignored testimony and flung inaccurate accusations at the attorney general and others, and this latest move fits within that tired political playbook that has so many Americans disillusioned with Washington," Justice Department spokesperson Tracy Schmaler said in a statement.
Holder has maintained that he has cooperated fully with the investigation. Last week, he was in a heated exchange with Issa while testifying before the committee.
"No, Mr. Attorney General, you're not a good witness! A good witness answers the question asked," Issa belted out after Holder said that he had responded to the committee's subpoenas.
Democrats on the committee defended Holder and have described the investigation as a witch hunt.
Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) also released a statement Monday, saying, "The Justice Department is out of excuses. Congress has given Attorney General Holder more than enough time to fully cooperate with its investigation into 'Fast and Furious' ... Either the Justice Department turns over the information requested, or Congress will have no choice but to move forward with holding the Attorney General in contempt for obstructing an ongoing investigation."
"Fast and Furious" was an undercover Justice Department program that sold weapons to drug dealers. The weapons were not tracked and one was used in the murder of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry.
Holder has maintained that the program was poorly planned and executed, but high-level Justice Department officials, including himself, were unaware of the program's details.
The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee maintains a website, www.fastandfuriousinvestigation.com, with details of the investigation. The committee will convene on June 20 to decide whether to hold Holder in contempt of Congress.