A public push to bring contempt of Congress charges against Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. boiled over briefly at a hearing Thursday at Capitol Hill, as lead critic Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) fired questions at Holder about the botched Fast and Furious gun-trafficking sting.
Issa, as chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, has pursued the contempt charges after sending numerous subpoenas to the Department of Justice as part of an investigation into Fast and Furious and not getting all the information he wants.
Holder told the House Judiciary Committee – his eighth time on the Hill to face the “curveballs and beanballs” of questioning on Fast and Furious, as one representative put it – that the DOJ has had constructive discussions with Issa’s staff and believes there will be a mutually acceptable resolution.
But when Issa got his chance to question Holder, he sternly corrected him. “You implied we were working together, when in fact, since May 18, nothing has come from your office,” Issa told him.
As Issa asked whether Holder had even identified and compiled the documents requested in the subpoenas, Holder gave a few words of an answer when Issa cut him off. “No, you’re not a good witness. A good witness answers the question asked,” Issa said.
Issa fired rapid fire questions at Holder, usually not giving him time to fully answer. And near the end of his five-minute limit for questions, Issa even answered some for Holder. “Isn’t it true you have not produced a log of materials held even though our investigators have asked for it? I’m sure you didn’t so let’s move on,” Issa said.
The questioning caused some terse discussion between Republican and Democratic members of the committee about the Issa's “hostility,” but Holder played it off.
“I don’t feel that,” Holder told the committee. “I’m pretty calm, I’m okay.”