By Mike Lillis - 06/20/12 10:23 PM EDT
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) defended Eric Holder after a House panel found him in contempt of Congress, saying the attorney general has "worked in good faith" with Republicans who are on a witch-hunt.
Behind Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), Republicans on the Oversight and Government Reform Committee voted unanimously Wednesday to pass the contempt resolution, contending Holder's response to their investigation into the "Fast and Furious" gun-tracking operation was inadequate.
But Pelosi said the vote was mere election-year politics, noting that Holder has testified before Congress nine times on the issue, as well as meeting privately with Issa and other congressional leaders Tuesday.
"It’s time," Pelosi added, "for Republicans to focus on our nation’s top priorities: creating jobs, growing our economy, and strengthening our middle class."
Fast and Furious was thrust into the spotlight after the December 2010 murder of border patrol agent Brian Terry, who was killed in a shoot-out with drug smugglers in Arizona. Several of the guns associated with that incident were linked to the Fast and Furious operation, under which the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) allowed known gun runners to purchase firearms in the United States in order to track them to Mexican cartel leaders.
The news inspired Issa to launch a months-long investigation, which led to Wednesday's contempt vote.
In an interview with bloggers earlier in the day, Pelosi said Wednesday's contempt resolution against Holder is a meaningless distraction that "undermines the true purpose" of that tool.
The California liberal said that, as House Speaker under President George W. Bush, she also had opportunities to hold administration officials in contempt, but decided such a move was frivolous.
"I could have arrested Karl Rove on any given day," Pelosi said, according to the Huffington Post. "I'm not kidding. There's a prison here in the Capitol … If we had spotted him in the Capitol, we could have arrested him."