Congress contempt charge for US Attorney General Holder
Published: 20th Jun 2012 23:44:24
A US House of Representatives committee has voted along party lines to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress.
Mr Holder refused to hand over papers relating to a botched sting operation.
The move comes after President Barack Obama used his executive privilege to withhold documents sought by the House Oversight Committee.
Operation Fast and Furious saw US agents lose hundreds of illegal guns let into Mexico to trace arms dealers.
US border agent Brian Terry was killed in December 2010 in a shootout with illegal immigrants with a weapon linked to Fast and Furious.
The congressional investigation was opened after two guns retrieved at the scene were found to be among 2,000 weapons authorities were supposed to be tracking.
Republican leaders in the House of Representatives have said they will schedule a full vote next week on the issue.
It's an election-year tactic intended to distract attention”
Shortly after the committee vote, House Speaker John Boehner tweeted an ultimatum, saying a full House vote would be held unless Mr Holder co-operated with the inquiry.
But Mr Holder said claimed the justice department had not been co-operative were "untrue".
Committee chairman Representative Darrell Issa 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," Mr Holder said.
"This divisive action 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," he said, calling it "an election-year tactic".
The Department of Justice says it has denied access to the files because they contain information that could affect ongoing criminal investigations.
Its officials say they have already sent more than 7,000 documents to the Republican-led House Oversight Committee.
Wednesday's use of executive privilege for withholding documents is the first time Mr Obama has invoked the power. Former Presidents George W Bush and Bill Clinton used the privilege six and 14 times respectively during their eight-year terms.
On Tuesday, Mr Holder met Mr Issa, but they did not agree on a path forward.
Mr Holder said lawmakers had turned down his offer to give them the documents, along with a briefing on the operation, in exchange for assurances that the panel would drop contempt proceedings.
Officials charged with contempt of Congress could potentially be fined or jailed - but correspondents say this standoff is unlikely to provoke such an outcome.
Historically, Congress and the White House have negotiated agreements to avoid a court battle that would limit either Congress' subpoena power or executive privilege itself.
In a separate development on Tuesday, the family of an Immigartion and Customs Enforcement agent killed in Mexico has filed a $25m wrongful death lawsuit against several US officials, including Mr Holder.
Jaime Zapata's family say the weapons that killed him were brought into Mexico because of US investigations into gun trafficking.
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Harvard CitationBBC News, 2012. Congress contempt charge for US Attorney General Holder [Online] (Updated 20th Jun 2012)
Available at: http://www.ukwirednews.com/news/1435939/Congress-contempt-charge-for-US-Attorney-General-Holder [Accessed 9th Mar 2014]
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With the doors to its brand new £1million training centre officially open, one of the UK's leading apprentice training providers, Bristol based S&B Automotive Academy, is showcasing its world-class facilities by launching a series of foreign student exchanges for the first time in its 41-year history. To get a flavour of what life is like as an apprentice in the UK, the Academy hosted 16 apprentice engineers and bus drivers from the G9 Automotive College in Hamburg, Germany, as part of a Europe-wide vocational training initiative called the ‘Leonardo Programme’ with support from the European Social Fund. In a reciprocal arrangement, S&B will be sending nine apprentices to Germany during February 2012 so that they can get an appreciation of life in the automotive industry on the Continent. A further three German exchange groups are being planned for next year. Designed to assist the development of vocational skills and training across Europe, including work placements for trainees, the Leonardo Programme has a budget of €1.75bn, which is helping to encourage UK organisations to work with their counterparts abroad. In what is expected to be another challenging year for employers in the UK automotive sector, S&B’s Chief Executive, Jon Winter, claims that the exchange initiative will bring many benefits to the Academy and its apprentices: “In a world of global automotive brands, it’s important for our learners to understand the international context of the industry they have chosen to make their career. This new exchange programme will enable apprentices and Academy staff alike to achieve a better understanding of the challenges and opportunities within the automotive arena in Europe. With the Academy’s influence also extending to the USA and Asia, there’s every possibility that this initiative could move further afield in the future.” Continued Winter: “The need for skilled technicians across the world is on the increase and we actively encourage our apprentices to look at broader horizons during their training. Many of them have already learned the phrase ‘Vorsprung durch Gelehrtheit’, quite simply, ‘Advancement through learning.” In the 2010/11 academic year, S&B doubled the number of successful Apprenticeships over the previous year with some 350 apprentices graduating from the Academy. At the same time, achievement levels reached an all-time high with an overall success rate of 85%. For those learners on the Advanced Apprenticeship three-year programme, success rates were even higher, at over 98%. PHOTO CAPTION: As part of their exchange visit, S&B Automotive Academy arranged for the German apprentices to visit Hampshire bus operator, Bluestar, at its Barton Park depot. The students are pictured with S&B’s Andy West (3rd right) and Steve Prewett, Bluestar’s Area Engineering Manager (2nd right). Ends http://www.sandbaa.com