Alexa

Republicans plan contempt vote on US top lawyer

 House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, joined by other House GOP leaders, meets with reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, June 27, 2012, ...
 House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., left, and the committee's ranking Democrat Rep. Elijah Cummings...
 Attorney General Eric Holder attends the Congressional picnic on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, June 27, 2012. (AP Photo...

House Republicans

House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, joined by other House GOP leaders, meets with reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, June 27, 2012, ...

APTOPIX Fast and Furious

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., left, and the committee's ranking Democrat Rep. Elijah Cummings...

Obama

Attorney General Eric Holder attends the Congressional picnic on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, June 27, 2012. (AP Photo...

Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives plan to cast long-threatened votes Thursday to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in civil and criminal contempt of Congress for refusing to turn over documents related to a bungled gun-tracking operation along the Mexican border.
Republicans have turned the dispute into a political attack on President Barack Obama as he fights for re-election in November. Interest in the investigation began when two guns used in the botched probe were found near a U.S. border agent who had been shot dead.
A sitting attorney general _ the top U.S. lawyer _ has never been held in contempt, and the effect of the votes is not clear. The criminal contempt resolution would send the matter to the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, who serves under Holder. The civil contempt resolution would allow the House to go to court in an effort to force Holder to turn over documents.
Passage of the contempt resolutions is not in doubt, with Republicans in control of the House.
But in past cases, courts have been reluctant to settle disputes between the executive and legislative branches of government.
The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has long been asking for the documents but is unlikely to get them any time soon. Obama for the first time invoked his power of executive privilege to prevent them from being handed over.
Republicans say they want to know what the White House is hiding. Democrats accuse Republicans of trying to embarrass the administration as the election approaches. White House spokesman Jay Carney said Wednesday that the public would view the vote as "political theater" and "gamesmanship."
In the botched Operation Fast and Furious, federal agents in Arizona abandoned the usual practice of intercepting all weapons they believed to be illegally purchased. Instead, the goal was to track such weapons to high-level arms traffickers who long had eluded prosecution and to dismantle their networks.
The agents lost track of several hundred weapons in Fast and Furious, and two of the guns turned up at the scene where border agent Brian Terry was killed in Arizona in a shootout with Mexican bandits.
The House committee wants documents of Justice Department communications after the Obama administration falsely told Congress that guns were not allowed to go to Mexico.
Operation Fast and Furious has been shut down.