Holder: Contempt vote is "unwarranted, unnecessary and unprecedented"
Photo: Video by kgun9.com
Reporter: Craig Smith
Web Prodcuer: Sara Wright
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV/AP) - U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder say he is willing to engage in negotiations to avoid a constitutional showdown over Justice Department documents in the "Fast and Furious" gun-smuggling investigation.
Holder is attending meetings in Copenhagen, Denmark, with European Union officials. He told reporters Thursday "the possibility still exists" that the confrontation with Congress can be resolved through negotiations.
A House committee voted to hold him in contempt, which Holder called "unwarranted, unnecessary and unprecedented." President Barack Obama claimed executive privilege Wednesday in refusing to turn over some documents.
Local reaction to the latest in Fast and Furious has been quick, and angry. Arizona was at the heart of the operation. Guns sold here went to Mexico---and turned up where Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was murdered.
Now the Fast and Furious investigation has become test of power between Members of Congress, and the President.
California Congressman Darrel Issa's committee is investigating the operation that let guns go to Mexico to trace them to the cartels.
Investigators lost track of many of the guns. Some turned up in the desert where Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry died.
Issa wants Attorney General Eric Holder to release documents about what the Justice Department knew.
Holder says he's released thousands of pages. Issa wants more, Holder says no. Now President Obama says he's the President, so he can say no. That's called executive privilege.
Brandon Judd is President of the local Border Patrol Union. He worked with Brian Terry.
KGUN9 reporter Craig Smith asked Judd: "What do you think of the idea of the President invoking executive privilege on this one?
Judd: "That's very, very disappointing because he railed against Bush for the number of times that Bush invoked executive privilege and again, if Issa was searching for specifics about the investigation, I could understand that but from my understanding Congressman Issa is looking to see who should be held accountable for letting those guns walk into Mexico and for Brian Terry's murder."
Now Issa's committee wants the full house to hold Eric Holder in contempt.
Republican Congressman Paul Gosar is the only Arizonan on Issa's committee.
He said during committee hearings: "The people of Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas who deal with unsecured borders and violent Mexican cartels on a regular basis now must also live in fear of these firearms. These citizens deserve for contempt charges to begin, because it was with contempt for their safety that this operation was carried out."
Here is part of a statement from Brian Terry's parents:
"Attorney General Eric Holder's refusal to fully disclose the documents associated with Operation Fast and Furious and President Obama's assertion of executive privilege serves to compound this tragedy. It denies the Terry family and the American people the truth."
All 23 Republicans on the committee voted to send the contempt citation to the House. All 17 Democrats on the committee voted no. They used terms like unreasonable---and a witch hunt. Congressman Elijah Cummings, the ranking Democrat on the committee, described the vote as a matter of election year politics.
Now, there will probably be a vote in the full House next week. Then Holder could face criminal charges but in past cases like this, things did not go that far.