In his first interview since Congress voted to hold him in contempt, Attorney General Eric Holder said the GOP was using him as an election-year “proxy” to go after President Obama.
“I’ve become a symbol of what they don’t like about the positions this Justice Department has taken,” Holder told The Washington Post on Monday. “I am also a proxy for the president in an election year. You have to be exceedingly naive to think that vote was about ... documents.”
“It’s a sad indication of where Washington has come, where policy differences almost necessarily become questions of integrity,” Holder continued. “I came to Washington in the late ’70s, and people had the ability in the past to have intense policy differences but didn’t feel the need to question the other person’s character. And that’s where we are now in Washington with at least one part of the Republican Party. That’s what they do, almost as a matter of course.”
Issa shot back in a separate interview with the Post, saying Holder “can say over and over that this is all about him, but that isn’t true.”
“As often as [Holder] has tried to cast himself and his other controversies as the reason for the investigation, he still doesn’t acknowledge the simple truth,” Issa said. “The citation for contempt had his name on it because the lawfully issued subpoena for documents issued nine months ago, that his department didn’t comply with, also had his name on it.”
Last Thursday, in a vote that included 17 Democrats, the House voted 255-67 to pass a criminal contempt resolution against Holder. The bulk of House Democrats staged a walkout to protest the vote.
The vote followed a 16-month investigation into the botched "Fast and Furious" gun-tracking operation.
While it’s unlikely that the Department of Justice will enforce the measure against its top lawyer, the House passed a second resolution shortly after that would allow Issa to pursue civil action against Holder.
The DOJ turned over about 7,600 pages of documents to Issa on Fast and Furious, but Holder refused to comply with the remainder of a subpoena, stating that much of the requested information would jeopardize ongoing prosecutions and criminal cases, if made public.
After last-minute negotiations fell through between Holder and Issa, President Obama stepped in to assert executive privilege over the documents.
“If anything, it made me more determined to stay and to continue to fight for the things that I think are important,” Holder said.