The National Rifle Association (NRA) will score a House panel vote to hold Attorney General Eric HolderEric Himpton HolderOne quick asylum fix: How Garland can help domestic violence survivors First redistricting lawsuits filed by Democratic group On The Trail: Census data kicks off the biggest redistricting fight in American history MORE in contempt. 

The NRA has longstanding issues with Holder, something it said was "no secret" in a letter the group wrote to leaders of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee announcing its decision. 

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The nation's most powerful gun lobbyist group said it has decided to score the vote over Holder's handling of the "Fast and Furious" program because of what the group calls the "open defiance" of the Department of Justice (DOJ) in the face of a congressional investigation into the botched gun-running operation. 

In a letter to leaders of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which is spearheading the investigation, the NRA's chief lobbyist warned that the highly influential firearms advocate will be watching closely as lawmakers cast their votes on contempt. 

"This is an issue of the utmost seriousness," Chris Cox wrote, "and the NRA will consider this vote in our future candidate evaluations." 

The NRA has been a sharp critic of Holder since he became head of DOJ. The group claims he is "anti-Second Amendment" for efforts like his push to reinstate the assault weapons ban and, more recently, to require border-state gun dealers to report bulk purchases of assault weapons. 

But the NRA's support for the contempt vote, Cox said, is independent of past grievances. 

"The reason we support the contempt resolution is the same reason we first called for Attorney General Holder’s resignation more than a year ago: the Department’s obstruction of congressional oversight of a program that cost lives in support of an anti-gun agenda," Cox wrote.

The Fast and Furious program has been under the spotlight for more than a year, after it was reported that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) put firearms into the hands of known drug smugglers in order to track them to Mexican cartel leaders.

Hundreds of those firearms have gone missing, and several have been linked indirectly to the murder of border patrol agent Brian Terry, who was killed in a December 2010 firefight in Arizona.

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Oversight panel, has launched an investigation and demanded reams of documents from Holder, who has declined to reveal certain information.

On Monday, Holder met with Issa, Rep. Elijah Cummings (Md.), the ranking Democrat on Issa’s committee, and Sens. Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahySenate Democrats push Biden over raising refugee cap On The Money: Democratic scramble complicates Biden's human infrastructure plan | Progressives push on student debt relief No designated survivor chosen for Biden's joint address to Congress MORE (D-Vt.) and Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyOn The Money: Biden says workers can't turn down job and get benefits | Treasury launches state and local aid | Businesses jump into vax push Grassley criticizes Biden's proposal to provide IRS with B The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Infrastructure, Cheney ouster on deck as Congress returns MORE (R-Iowa) — the leaders of the Senate Judiciary Committee — in an attempt to reach some agreement. But Issa left the meeting saying he was “disappointed” with the documents Holder had offered, and vowed to stage a Wednesday vote in the committee to hold the attorney general in contempt of Congress.

Adding a new twist to the saga, just before the hearing got underway Wednesday morning, the White House announced that it would invoke executive privilege to prevent Issa from obtaining the withheld documents. The move sparked a firestorm of criticism from Republicans —already incensed about last week's unilateral move by the administration to forego deportations for young illegal immigrants — that the White House is overstepping its constitutional authority.

“The assertion of executive privilege raises monumental questions,” Grassley said in a statement. “Is something very big being hidden to go to this extreme?”

The executive action did nothing to dissuade Issa, whose committee will still stage its contempt vote on Wednesday.

This story was updated at 11:09 a.m.