A U.S. House committee chairman said his panel would proceed with a vote tomorrow on holding Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress unless he provides documents subpoenaed by lawmakers.
After meeting with Holder today in Washington, Representative Darrell Issa, a California Republican who is chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform panel, told reporters that a vote can be averted if the Justice Department provides documents by tomorrow from a law enforcement operation involving the sale of guns that ended up in Mexico.
“At this point, we simply do not have the documents we have repeatedly said we need to justify the postponement of a contempt vote in committee,” Issa said in a statement.
The vote would be the latest escalation in a standoff between lawmakers and Holder, who would be the first attorney general held in contempt by a congressional committee since 1998.
Holder said he offered to turn over the documents on condition that Issa give assurances that doing so would satisfy the subpoena. The Justice Department already has provided thousands of pages of documents, though not all of the materials Issa requested.
Issa said that the panel must evaluate the documents to determine whether they comply with the subpoena.
“We need the documents to know whether or not he’s being responsive,” Issa said. If Holder turns them over before tomorrow’s committee meeting, Issa said he would be willing to delay the contempt vote while the panel evaluates the material.
Holder said today that the two sides were at an impasse because Issa wouldn’t give him “an indication that if we provide the material that would resolve the subpoena issue.”
“We are involved in political gamesmanship as opposed to trying to get the information,” Holder told reporters as he left a meeting with Issa in the Capitol.
“The ball is in their court,” Holder said. “They rejected what I thought was an extraordinary offer on our part.”