The House may vote to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt but “legally, there’s no substance to it,” former House general counsel Stanley Brand tells the National Law Journal. “it’s all posturing. It’s all public relations.” House Government Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) is seeking the vote against Holder for refusing to turn over documents relating to the botched Fast and Furious gun-smuggling investigation.
Bringing the contempt citation for a vote in the full Senate could result in a political circus that Republican leaders have so far seemed reluctant to push for. After that, attempting to enforce a contempt finding could end up as a lengthy court battle. The House voted for contempt charges in 2008, when George W. Bush administration White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten and former White House Counsel Harriet Miers declined to testify in an investigation into the firing of U.S. Attorneys in the Bush Administration. A federal district court judge ruled mainly in favor of the House, Bolten and Miers reached an agreement to testify and provide some documents for the investigation. A vote against Holder could ratchet up pressure for Holder to provide more documents. “Historically, these things almost always get worked out through negotiations,” said Josh Chafetz of Cornell Law School.