Senator John Cornyn of Texas today joined a growing chorus of fellow Republican lawmakers calling for the resignation of U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder over his handling of probes into a federal gun investigation and leaks of classified information.
Cornyn, a Texas Republican, called for the attorney general’s resignation at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing where Holder was testifying. Cornyn follows dozens of House Republicans -- 115 signing a “no-confidence” resolution -- and at least three other senators in calling for Holder to quit.
“We’re all unhappy with the performance of the attorney general,” said Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Senate Republican leader, who stopped short of also calling for Holder’s departure. Cornyn “speaks for a lot” of Republicans frustrated with the Justice Department, he said.
President Barack Obama has voiced “complete confidence” in Holder, who has committed to serve through the remainder of Obama’s term in January. In an election year fraught with partisan conflicts on Capitol Hill, Obama’s attorney general has provided a ready target for Republicans.
“You’ve violated the public trust, in my view, by failing and refusing to perform the duties of your office,” Cornyn told Holder at the hearing. “It’s more sorrow than regret than anger that I would say that you leave me no alternative but to join those that call upon you to resign your office.”
Holder told lawmakers that he acted appropriately and doesn’t have “any intention of resigning.”
Holder, a target of Republicans since soon after taking office in February 2009, is facing a contempt vote in the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on June 20. The panel has demanded documents related to Fast and Furious, a law enforcement operation that allowed illegal U.S. weapons purchases to wind up at crime scenes in Mexico. Holder has said the tactics were “misguided” and wouldn’t be used again.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters today that more than 7,000 pages of documents were given to Congress and the attacks on Holder are “nothing more than politics.”
“I have complete confidence in Attorney General Holder,” Obama said on Oct. 6, praising him for “how he handles his office. He has been very aggressive in going after gun running and cash transactions that are going to international drug cartels in Mexico.”
Republicans have mounted their own election-year campaign. Representative Paul Gosar, an Arizona Republican, has the signatures of 115 House members on a “no-confidence” resolution on Holder. “It is long past time for Eric Holder to be held accountable for his failures as the attorney general,” Gosar said in a statement issued April 27.
“The Daily Caller,” an online publication, reports finding 129 House members calling for Holder’s resignation.
Cornyn circulated today a YouTube video of his committee statement on his Twitter account and later advised his Twitter followers: “Will be on Fox News in a few minutes to discuss my call for AG Holder to resign.”
Cornyn said that Holder misled Congress about the gun investigation, and said the Justice Department faces a “clear conflict of interest” in its investigation into leaks of classified national security information.
“You won’t support a truly independent investigation,” Cornyn said.
Holder said he has “great faith” in two U.S. attorneys he named to lead investigations into leaks of classified information. Holder rejected Republican lawmakers’ calls for the appointment of an independent special prosecutor.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, said Republican calls to appoint a special prosecutor would slow the probe of the leaks.
“This whole episode in the last few days by my Republican friends has been a strictly partisan, insincere attempt to embarrass the president,” Reid told reporters today.
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