The bipartisan vote to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in criminal contempt of Congress on Thursday interestingly lost two Republican members’ votes.
Both of those Republicans, Virginia Rep. Scott Rigell and Ohio Rep. Steve LaTourette, did later vote to hold Holder in civil contempt of Congress.
In a statement provided to The Daily Caller, Rigell explains why he voted in favor of civil contempt for Holder and against criminal contempt.
“In the wisdom of our Founding Fathers, there is built-in tension among the three branches of our federal government,” Rigell said. “This tension was reflected in two votes that came to the House floor this afternoon.”
“I believe in progressive discipline,” Rigell added. “Accordingly, and after a careful review of the facts, I voted against a bill to hold the Attorney General in criminal contempt of Congress. Later, I voted for a bill that authorizes the Oversight Committee to initiate or intervene in judicial proceedings and force the Attorney General to comply with what are very reasonable oversight requests from this Congress.”
Rigell went to on to say he thinks Holder should resign in the wake of Operation Fast and Furious, making him the 130th House member to demand that Holder step down.
“In my view, the Attorney General has not served the President or the American people well,” Rigell said. “I believe he should resign. I am intent on pursuing the facts and gaining a full understanding of the Administration’s handling of the events leading to the Fast and Furious program, and as importantly, the conduct of the Administration in the months that followed.”
Eight U.S. senators, two sitting governors and presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney have all demanded Holder’s resignation.
UPDATE 12:34: LaTourette responds to The Daily Caller with his explanation: “There is understandably some concern over the series of votes on whether Attorney General Eric Holder should be held in contempt for his failure to provide ALL documents relating to Fast and Furious. I say series of votes because some folks posted comments after the first vote, perhaps unaware that there were two votes. The first vote was to hold the AG in criminal contempt and the second was whether to hold him contempt of Congress and authorize the House to seek a judicial order of contempt unless the AG handed over the requested documents. I voted no on the first and yes on the second. To be clear, I absolutely believe that AG Holder has no justification for withholding properly subpoenaed documents. How to get him to comply is another matter. By voting to ask a court to order production, Congress can achieve its goal of getting to the bottom of Fast and Furious without turning Holder into a martyr for the Left. There will be plenty of time to prosecute, remove from office or force the AG to resign if the facts indicate it is appropriate. My vote of yes on the second resolution will ensure that occurs. The criminal contempt route will simply, in my opinion, allow the Left to repeat their mantra that ‘there go those wacky Republicans again’. Washington has enough political theater and I would rather have a judge compel the AG to hand over the documents and take whatever action those documents indicate is appropriate.”