For nearly two years, House Oversight Chair Darrell Issa (R-CA) has tried to exploit the tragedy of a series of botched gun stings that led to a federal law enforcement agent’s death in order to score political points against Attorney General Eric Holder. The gun stings that are the focus of Issa’s witchhunt against Holder began when George W. Bush was president and Holder was an attorney in private practice. Nevertheless, Issa eventually forced the House Republican leadership to hold a contempt of Congress vote against Holder, although the leaders buried that vote on the same day that the Affordable Care Act was upheld in a likely attempt to prevent Issa’s witchhunt from receiving much media coverage.
After numerous hearings and, of course, the contempt vote, the Department of Justice’s inspector general released a 471 page report that cleared Holder of any wrongdoing. And yet Issa still plans to continue his crusade against the now-exonerated cabinet official:
House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) is vowing to continue pursuing Attorney General Eric Holder’s contempt of Congress citation in court and said the report is all the more reason to continue his own probe with new zeal.
Issa will “absolutely” continue pursuing the civil lawsuit attempting to compel Holder to hand over more documents about the gun-running investigation, spokesman Frederick Hill said.
Hill said the findings of the IG report and some of its loose ends “only enhances the importance of the House moving forward in its civil action against President [Barack Obama's] flawed claim of executive privilege.”
The same categories of documents being sought in the suit, which were at the heart of the contempt citation, were reviewed by DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz. Obama did not assert executive privilege to prevent him from obtaining the documents
As ThinkProgess explained last February, Issa’s continued efforts to politicize this tragedy come at a very real cost: “When Issa drags Holder before a House committee for four hours to be nothing more than a pawn in an elaborate game set up to embarrass President Obama, that means many more hours — most likely days — that Holder and other key Justice Department officials must spent prepping for their role in Issa’s withhunt. Every minute they spend preparing for this witchhunt is a minute they cannot spend ensuring that the law is fairly enforced, that national security officials in DOJ have the tools they need to operate, or that dangerous criminals are tracked down and prosecuted.”
This week’s Inspector General report was no whitewash. It recommended discipline against 14 DOJ officials and found “a pattern of serious failures” associated with the gun stings. In other words, it proves that Holder’s Justice Department is fully capable of examining its own dirty laundry and determining which officials need to be disciplined or removed because they performed their job poorly. Issa’s witchhunt does little more than distract from this important effort.