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Holder Would Be Held in Contempt Under Draft House Measure

A U.S. House Republican lawmaker circulated a draft measure to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress, saying the Justice Department didn’t turn over documents in a gun investigation.

Representative Darrell Issa of California, chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, released a report today citing requests for documents in the committee’s probe of the “fast and furious” law enforcement operation that allowed illegal U.S. weapons purchases to wind up in Mexico.

“The Justice Department’s failure to respond appropriately to the allegations of whistle-blowers and to cooperate with congressional oversight has crossed the line of appropriate conduct for a government agency,” Issa said in a memo distributed to committee members today.

Deputy U.S. Attorney General James Cole, in a letter to Issa today, disputed the assertion that the department response has been inadequate.

The department has given the committee more than 7,600 pages of material, and officials including Holder and his assistant attorney generals have appeared at its hearings, he said. It also has responded “to dozens of letters from members of Congress seeking information on a wide range of issues relating” to the committee investigation, he said.

Material not released relates to “disclosure of materials related to ongoing criminal investigations and prosecutions” and the department’s belief that their exposure would jeopardize the law enforcement mission, Cole said.

“Despite the differing views currently held by the committee and the department, we continue to believe that efforts to arrive at a mutually acceptable resolution have not been fully exhausted,” he said.

The timing for a committee contempt vote is “still to be decided,” said Frederick Hill, a spokesman for Issa’s committee.

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