Holder Speaks: Accuses Issa of Distraction, Points Finger at Bush
Attorney General Eric Holder had a lengthy response to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee's vote today to send a contempt resolution to the floor, calling it a "divisive action" that "does not help us fix the problems that led to this operation or previous ones and it does nothing to make any of our law enforcement agents safer."
“Unfortunately, Chairman Issa has rejected all of these efforts to reach a reasonable accommodation. Instead, he has chosen to use his authority to take an extraordinary, unprecedented and entirely unnecessary action, intended to provoke an avoidable conflict between Congress and the Executive Branch," Holder said. "...It's an election-year tactic intended to distract attention -- and, as a result -- has deflected critical resources from fulfilling what remains my top priority at the Department of Justice: Protecting the American people."
The attorney general called "untrue" any claims that his department has been unresponsive to committee information requests.
"From the beginning, Chairman Issa and certain members of the Committee have made unsubstantiated allegations first, then scrambled for facts to try to justify them later," Holder said. "That might make for good political theater, but it does little to uncover the truth or address the problems associated with this operation and prior ones dating back to the previous Administration."
In his six-paragraph statement, he made three references to the Bush administration.
He also said that "well before Chairman Issa expressed any interest in this issue" he ordered gunwalking operations stopped.
“When Chairman Issa later began his own investigation, I made it clear that the Department would cooperate with all appropriate oversight requests, while still adhering to our legal obligations to protect information involving ongoing law enforcement investigations, legally-protected grand jury material and other sensitive information whose disclosure would endanger the American people or our agents investigating open cases," Holder said.
“The American people deserve better," he added.
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