Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. wants to meet with congressional leaders tomorrow, the day before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is scheduled to vote on whether he is in contempt of Congress.
In a letter sent today to Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), Holder again agreed to meet personally with Issa and others who say the Department of Justice has not turned over key documents subpoenaed as part of an inquiry into the botched Fast and Furious gun-smuggling investigation.
Holder said DOJ will provide some documents, and then make an “extraordinary accommodation” of holding a briefing with the lawmakers. “The Department has offered a serious, good faith proposal to bring this matter to an amicable resolution in the form of a briefing based on documents that the Committee could retain,” Holder said.
Those documents explain how Holder and the department learned of controversial tactics used in Fast and Furious, and how that understanding “evolved” after Feb. 4, 2011, the day the department gave incorrect information to Congress about the investigation that it later rescinded.
He urged key Democrats be invited to the briefing, along with key Republicans from both the House and Senate, to “avoid an unnecessary Constitutional confrontation.”
Holder’s accommodations are an effort to avoid the contempt vote. The vote seems likely to succeed, with House Government Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) pushing aggressively for the charge. Further, he got the backing on June 11 of the two top Republicans in the House, Speaker John Boehner (Ohio) and Majority Leader Eric Cantor (Va.).
The full House would then have to vote on the contempt for it to move forward, a less certain outcome, given the politics of an election year, and the gravity of holding the nation’s top law enforcement official in contempt.