Belmont Club

Fast And Furious Ongoing

Those who want to follow Fast and Furious go to the contempt proceedings. As per the feed, which has ended, a contempt report has been approved by the Committee and sent to the House. The stage is set for a vote next week unless the President can persuade Congress to desist.

PJMedia’s Bridget Johnson has more:

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee voted 23-17 along party lines to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress today, pushing forward with the action even after the White House slapped an 11th-hour executive privilege on subpoenaed documents still sought in the Operation Fast and Furious investigation.

Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said an official communication from President Obama had not been received by Congress at the time of this morning’s meeting, but the committee had received a multi-page letter from Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole informing them of the action just minutes before the hearing, which was scheduled earlier this month.

“We regret that we have arrived at this point, after the many steps we have taken to address the Committee’s concerns and to accommodate the Committee’s legitimate oversight interests regarding Operation Fast and Furious,” Cole wrote. “Although we are deeply disappointed that the Committee appears intent on proceeding with a contempt vote, the Department remains willing to work with the Committee to reach a mutually satisfactory resolution of the outstanding issues.”

The vote was entirely on party lines. The talking points made by each side during the hearings were a study in contrast. The Democrats had played two notes: “Bush invoked executive privilege” and “let’s be reasonable and negotiate a deal with the President to avoid a confrontation”.

The Republicans were surprisingly aggressive and even offered an amendment which suggested the President didn’t validly invoke executive privilege, the letter coming as it did not from the President and at the literal 11th hour. Besides, they said, surely the President has nothing to claim privilege on since he can have nothing to hide.

The party-line vote suggests that the Republican House leadership will take this resolution at least some distance. They will advance some distance against the President’s dare; exactly how far is anybody’s guess.

Now the problem for the President becomes 1) does he try to head off the House vote? or 2) does he double down? Whichever road is taken will burn energy. This is not favorable ground for him to fight on. He can only accuse Issa of ‘playing politics’ or at worst, of racism. But Issa can hint that someone at justice was guilty of a serious crime. So the accusations are asymmetric. One is firing cupcakes. The other is firing 16 inch armor piercing.

What cannot be foreseen is what the next week will bring. But here’s a guess. Trouble in the Middle East. More bad economic news from Europe. More bad economic news at home. Immigration, of course. Also, there may possibly be an adverse decision from the Supreme Court on Obamacare.

President Obama might have been able to handle F&F if it were all he was facing. But it is simply one more nightmare among a crowd of them. As I wrote in the last thread, in some way this is all abut energy management between dogfighting opponents. And the administration has very little altitude and airspeed left.

Things are getting a little rough. The Daily Caller reports that Nancy Pelosi is appalled by the contempt citation. She said that were she so uncivil during her time in power she might have had Karl Rove arrested “anytime”.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi attacked House Republicans for pursuing contempt of Congress charges against Attorney General Eric Holder on Wednesday.

“I could have arrested Karl Rove on any given day,” Pelosi said on Wednesday, The Huffington Post reports. “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.”

“Oh, any number” of charges could have been brought against Rove, Pelosi said. “But there were some specific ones for his being in contempt of Congress.”

Pelosi also criticized Republicans pushing for justice for Border Patrol agent Brian Terry — as House oversight committee ranking Democratic member Rep. Elijah Cummings has on numerous occasions — as “just strictly political.”

The contract between members of the Ruling Elite has been stretched of late. It used to be that one side let the transgressions of the other pass because they expected the same when their turn came. But then people started talking about “permanent majorities” and “fundamentally transforming America”. Then came selective enforcement of the laws. At some point one side was bound to see it as a threat.

The Republicans probably came to see Holder as a threat — if only for his candid efforts to keep dubious voters on the rolls. Now that Issa has basically threatened to lock Holder up in the same cell Pelosi hoped to incarcerate Rove in, then the Democrats see the Republicans as a threat. As noted earlier, the thing to watch now is the escalator.

The “Chicago Way” as the movie famously put it, is to escalate until the other side is in the hospital or the morgue. But as this eventually creates a symmetric response, then logically either Boehner or Pelosi will one day be looking out from inside that self-same cell — if they are lucky. Someone had better get between the boys or it will be stools and whiskey bottles and maybe the piano player flying in the bar.

If it comes to a compromise, then look to see Holder thrown to the dogs. Holder must realize that he will be defended only up to the point where the trouble costs less than he is worth. Maybe he has realized it, and has arranged to wire himself up to the President in which case the situation becomes very interesting indeed.

Open thread. And double posts do not count toward the limit if they are substantially the same thing.

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