House oversight committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa said Tuesday evening that his committee plans to move forward with contempt of Congress proceedings against Attorney General Eric Holder on Wednesday if he fails to produce promised documents before a scheduled 10 a.m. vote.
Issa, Holder, Sen. Chuck Grassley, Sen. Pat Leahy, Rep. Elijah Cummings and Deputy Attorney General James Cole met behind closed doors in the Capitol Building at 5 p.m. on Tuesday. The meeting was an attempt to work out a plan to postpone a committee vote, scheduled for Wednesday morning, on contempt of Congress proceedings against Holder.
On Monday afternoon, Issa told Holder he needed documents — not a promise of future document production — before he would agree to postpone contempt proceedings. Holder did not come to the meeting with the documents in hand.
“To summarize, he [Holder] came with an offer of a briefing,” Issa said. “We went through the process of what was being offered and responded, as I think we have to, which is the documents that they may choose to give in the future, we need to have before tomorrow.”
That said, Issa said he thinks the “documents necessary to cause a postponement appear to be in their possession,” and he hopes Holder gives them to him tonight.
“If we can evaluate them even partially then that will give us grounds to negotiate a postponement and perhaps a final resolution,” Issa said.
Issa added that he thinks the meeting was nothing more than “a reiterating of positions that we [Issa and Holder] both had in the letters [back and forth over the past week].”
“Our position is give us the documents; their position is give us a briefing, then give us documents supporting their assertion that essentially there was no wrongdoing, and then bring it to a close,” Issa said. “I think we have to — we have to in good conscience — see documents that convince us that it’s time to say it’s sufficient as to the subpoena. We’re willing to do that, but if they have documents they believe makes the case they certainly should give those to us first. We also discussed a log of what we weren’t given — which is normal in these kinds of procedures. We did not make any progress on that, but we also hope to make progress on if there are things that they don’t want to give us, at least tell us what they’re not giving and why.”
Cummings, on the other hand, said he thought the meeting was “very good.”
“He [Holder] offered to — agreed to — provide documents with regard to post Feb. 4,” Cummings said. “He also agreed to provide a substantive briefing on the department’s actions. He also agreed to a request by Sen. Grassley for a description of the categories of documents produced and withheld. He also agreed to entertain substantive follow-up information.”
“All he asked in return was for a good-faith effort to bring this matter to a resolution,” Cummings continued. “He was very clear that answering these subpoenas has taken a substantial amount of time of the attorney general’s office. I have thought — in fact, I have always thought — he has been very reasonable in trying to address this issue. Keep in mind, this effort to subpoena the records from the attorney general is a legitimate duty of our committee. Our committee has — as part of its mission — to investigate. We also have — as part of our mission — to bring about reform when that is appropriate.”