Lawmakers express concerns with Holder leadership following testimony

Jim Kouri by Jim Kouri on June 8th, 2012

This is article 135 of 244 in the topic Congressional Investigations

Following the testimony of Attorney General Eric Holder on Thursday, Congressman Lamar Smith expressed concern with Holder’s leadership of the Justice Department and the Obama administration’s efforts to impose a partisan agenda on the American people.

Attorney General Holder (right) and his boss, President Barack Obama, are accused by many of politicizing the U.S. Justice Department. Photo credit: NewswithViews/Paul Walter

The chairman of House Judiciary Committee, Lamar Smith (R-Texas), grilled Attorney General Holder at the hearing in Washington, D.C. about whether White House officials were aware of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ (ATF’s) Operation Fast & Furious, which contributed to the shooting death of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry.

The Attorney General appeared before the House Judiciary Committee for an oversight hearing on the Justice Department’s activities. Outstanding questions surrounding the controversial ATF operation that allowed guns to be purchased in the U.S. and trafficked to Mexico dominated the Committee’s discussion.

“For the past three and half years, this Administration has engaged in a pattern of obstructionism, unaccountability, and partisanship. The Administration’s actions aren’t just wrong–they are arrogant, undemocratic, and an insult to the rule of law. The American people should have confidence that the Department of Justice fairly enforces laws. That confidence is lacking today,” said Rep. Smith.

In April, Chairman Smith issued a report on the Justice Department’s disregard for the Constitution and rule of law.

“The report outlines high profile examples of how the Justice Department has ignored the Constitution in order to impose the Administration’s partisan agenda on the American people. From blocking investigations of Operation Fast & Furious and Justice Elena Kagan’s involvement in Obamacare to refusing to enforce and defend certain laws, the Attorney General has allowed a partisan agenda to guide the Justice Department’s decisions,” said Chairman Smith.

Congressional Republicans and their investigators have been probing the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ (ATF’s) Fast and Furious “Gunwalker” scandal. Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) has been openly vocal about seeking a contempt citation against Holder.

The Oversight Committee’s contempt resolution will require a full House vote and, if it passes, the Congressmen would probably look to the federal courts to enforce the citation.

Law Enforcement Examiner sources claim that Republican House staffers have moved slowly in building their case and in creating the motion to hold the Attorney General in contempt of Congress.

“All government officials are bound by the limits of the Constitution and the rule of law, including the President and the Attorney General. Unfortunately, this Administration continues to put a partisan agenda ahead of the Constitution and the rule of law,” Congressman Issa said.

The high profile examples currently under investigation are: Stalling Investigation of Operation Fast & Furious; Failing to Enforce Immigration Laws; Challenging Voter ID Laws; Blocking Congressional Inquiries;  Refusing to Defend the Defense of Marriage Act; Ignoring the Constitution’s Limited Recess Appointment Power.

“Beginning with the Attorney General’s refusal to prosecute members of the radical group the New Black Panther Party for their flagrant voter intimidation during the 2008 presidential election right through to the recent DOJ ignoring of the Black Panthers placing a bounty on the head of Robert Zimmerman, the suspect in the tragic shooting of Trayvon Martin in Florida, the Justice Department has walked a thin line between disinterest and racism,” said former police lieutenant George Harley, himself an African American police official.

“Of all agencies in the federal government, the Justice Department, because of the great power it holds over Americans’ Constitutional rights, should not impose their own partisan agenda. Unfortunately, under the Obama Administration, the Justice Department has become more partisan than ever,” the report states.

“Rather than fulfilling the Attorney General’s oath to ‘support and defend the Constitution of the United States’ and the President’s Constitutional responsibility to ‘take care that the laws be faithfully executed,’ the Justice Department in the Obama Administration, under the leadership of Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr., has repeatedly put its partisan agenda ahead of its Constitutional duties. The pattern of pushing partisan ideology rather than neutrally enforcing the law began nearly as soon as the Administration took office and has continued unabated since,” according to the committee report.

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