White House press secretary Jay Carney called the bipartisan effort to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in criminal and civil contempt of Congress a mood-killer for voters nationwide.
According to a pool report on Friday, Carney said the vote — one which was more bipartisan than the 2010 vote that passed Obamacare — is a “turn-off” for voters. And, according to the press pool report, Carney “repeated the administration’s view that the vote was pure political theater.”
On Thursday, 17 Democrats joined all but two House Republicans to vote to hold Holder in criminal contempt of Congress. And 21 Democrats joined all House Republicans to vote to hold Holder in civil contempt of Congress.
The measures came because Holder has failed to comply with a congressional subpoena House oversight committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa served him last October in pursuit of documents from the Operation Fast and Furious scandal. Holder has provided only 7,600 pages worth of documents — many of which are redacted or blacked out — out of 140,000 pages he said he has identified internally.
Carney still thinks the bipartisan contempt resolutions are political, though.
“Thus far they’ve made a strategic choice to try to somehow make a political play here,” Carney said, “that I don’t really think will be effective, because perhaps short of inspiring some small segment of the American electorate out there, I think it will turn off most Americans who just are sick of the political gamesmanship in Washington and want Congress to focus on the things that they care about: Like job creation and economic growth, and national security and innovation, education — those issues that are absolute priorities for the American people,” he said.
President Barack Obama asserted the executive privilege over internal Department of Justice deliberative process documents — a privilege California Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff called weak because, he said, government misconduct “absolutely” took place in Fast and Furious. According to the Congressional Research Service, even the suspicion of government misconduct invalidates executive privilege claims over deliberative process documents – but that decision will ultimately be left to a federal judge.
During the Friday morning press meeting, a reporter asked Carney, “What’s next for Eric Holder?” — an indication that the press corps in Washington is starting to notice that those calling for Holder’s resignation now include 130 congressmen, eight senators, two sitting governors and presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.
Carney replied that Holder’s not going anywhere: “He’s going to continue his excellent work as attorney general of the United States,” Carney said.