House oversight committee chairman Rep. Darrell Issa is expected to file a civil contempt of Congress lawsuit Monday against Eric Holder, in the hope that a federal judge will force the U.S. Attorney General to turn over documents related to the Operation Fast and Furious scandal.
“The committee expects to file the civil contempt suit against the Attorney General Monday,” a Republican congressional source told The Daily Caller.
The lawsuit, the timing of which was first reported by CBS News’ Sharyl Attkisson, comes on the heels of bipartisan June 28 House votes that landed Holder in criminal and civil contempt of Congress. Those charges were related to Holder’s continued failure to comply with a congressional subpoena for documents related to the controversial gunwalking program.
Those contempt votes came shortly after President Barack Obama asserted executive privilege over the documents. (RELATED: The Daily Caller’s complete coverage of Operation Fast and Furious)
Holder’s Department of Justice directed Ronald Machen, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, to not enforce the criminal contempt resolution after the House of Representatives approved it. Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley and others argue that move showed Machen is incapable of making decisions independent of political influence. Grassley has also said such a politically compromised prosecutor should not be investigating the national security leaks scandal that is running in parallel with Fast and Furious.
Because of the fear Machen wouldn’t be able to separate politics from the law, a bipartisan group in the House also approved a civil contempt resolution against Holder. That resolution allowed for Issa’s team to hire attorneys, and provided for resources to sue the administration over the release of documents Congress has not yet seen.
During Fast and Furious, the Obama administration allowed about 2,000 weapons to “walk” into the hands of Mexican drug cartels. The gunwalking tactic involves federal agents allowing straw purchasers — people who illegally purchase guns on behalf of smugglers for the cartels — to buy weapons and traffick them across the border, instead of stopping the arms deals. In theory, gunwalking is supposed to help law enforcement to track the weapons to the cartels themselves, but in Fast and Furious little effort was made to keep tabs on the guns after they left the United States.
Weapons trafficked to Mexico through Operation Fast and Furious were used to kill U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry and approximately 300 Mexican civilians. It is also likely they were used to kill U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent Jaime Zapata.