Holder: 'We Want to Talk About Fast and Furious... What, the Ninth Time?'
"You know, I'm not sure what a 10 would be, but I'd put him up there," Holder replied.
"Well, if there's something worse, I'd hate to see it," Graham said. "So my point is that I think our concern on this side of the aisle is that there are clearly people around the president leaking stories that involve highly classified information."
"You've got one program called Fast and Furious that's been an embarrassment to the administration and it's been like pulling teeth to get information about Fast and Furious, who knew what and when. And when you have programs on the national security front that seem to show the president is a strong leader, you can read about it in the paper," the senator continued. "So my concern I think is a lot of us believe if there was ever a need for an outside special counsel, it is now."
Graham then pressed Holder on whether he thought the Valerie Plame and Jack Abramoff cases warranted special counsel.
"I as attorney general am seized with the responsibility of looking at allegations, controversies and making the decision on the basis of what I think is best for a successful investigation and potential prosecutions," Holder said.
"I think you're missing something here. I think you're missing the fact that this is a very big deal," Graham said. "…Mr. Attorney General, what you're missing is that the biggest double standard in recent times, that the very people who are in charge of a White House that I believe has compromised national security unlike any time in recent memory, when they were in this body, with investigations no worse, I think -- that could not be considered any worse than this -- were advocating to the Bush administration appoint somebody new; appoint a special prosecutor that we could all have confidence in, and suggested that the Bush administration was trying to conceal and protect themselves by not doing what they were urging."
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) noted that one of the U.S. attorneys appointed by Holder, Ron Machen, "is a political contributor to President Obama's campaign, indeed served as a volunteer for Obama for America and assisted in the vetting of potential vice presidential candidates."
"I am confident that he has the ability, the capacity to investigate this case in a nonpartisan, independent, thorough and aggressive way," Holder said.
"Well, I would suggest the question that that raises by your answer is whether you have the independence and ability to conduct the investigation, if in fact all of this comes back through you, and given your track record," Cornyn continued.
"Well, my track record is consistent…" Holder began.
"I didn't ask you a question," Cornyn interjected, later chiding the attorney to "not filibuster the time" so that the senator could talk about his record.
The Texas Republican then proceeded to rattle off a litany of Holder sins, ranging from Fast and Furious stonewalling to refusing to appoint a special counsel to probe the intelligence leaks and combatting states' voter ID laws.
"In short, you've violated the public trust, in my view, by failing and refusing to perform the duties of your office," Cornyn said. "So, Mr. Attorney General, it's more sorrow than -- than regret -- than anger that I would say that you leave me no alternative but to join those that call upon you to resign your office."
Leahy said that Cornyn had accused Holder of perjury, so the attorney general had the right to respond.
"Yeah, with all due respect, senator, there is so much that's factually wrong with the premises that you started your statement with, you know, it's almost breathtaking in its inaccuracy, so I -- but I will simply leave it at that," Holder said. "You know, we want to talk about Fast and Furious. This is, I guess, what, the ninth time? …If you want to talk about Fast and Furious, I'm the attorney general that put an end to the misguided tactics that were used in Fast and Furious."
"I don't have any intention of resigning. I heard the White House press officer say yesterday that the president has absolute confidence in me. I don't have any reason to believe that that, in fact, is not -- is not the case," Holder added.
Holder claimed during the hearing that his drive against voter ID laws is "not advocating for party" but "principle."
Later, Cornyn reiterated his call for Holder's resignation in a lengthy address on the Senate floor, calling the attorney general's tactics "nothing short of misleading and obstructionist."
Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) asked Holder about his repeated use of "constitutional crisis" in connection with revealing Fast and Furious documents.
"You know, I think -- I think about -- maybe 'constitutional conflict' would be a little better," Holder said.