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Yesterday, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives voted to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress for his failure to provide subpoenaed documents to the Congressional Committee investigating the Fast and Furious gun-walking scandal. Mr. Holder thus becomes the first sitting cabinet member to be held in contempt. Seventeen Democrats joined 238 Republicans in voting aye, 65 Democrats and two Republicans voted nay, and one member voted present. One hundred Democrats refused to vote and left the chamber in protest, including Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC). The walkout follows days of accusations by the American left that the contempt vote has racial underpinnings.
Racial arsonist Al Sharpton led the way. In a column for the Huffington Post, he accused House Oversight and Government Reform Committee chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) of engaging in a “political witch hunt” during which Attorney General Holder was “spoken to and mistreated as if he were a child, and reminded that despite his esteemed position, he can and would be profiled,” wrote Sharpton. “AG Holder was in essence ‘stopped & frisked’ without probable cause, and after he cooperated, he was made an example of. What Issa just showed us is that no matter what our stature in this world, someone can easily try to ‘put us in our place.’”
Mr. Sharpton then reiterated the lie that “Fast and Furious was created under the Bush Administration.” We now know it’s a lie because the Justice Department itself was forced to retract Eric Holder’s sworn testimony that Bush administration Attorney General Michael Mukasey had been briefed about the program. The DOJ claimed Mr. Holder “inadvertently” made the charge. This marked the second retraction made by the DOJ, the first being a Feb. 4, 2011, letter to Congress inaccurately stating that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives–which ran Fast and Furious–“makes every effort to interdict weapons that have been purchased illegally and prevent their transportation to Mexico.”
Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also injected race into the issue. “They’re going after Eric Holder because he is supporting measures to overturn these voter suppression initiatives in the states,” Pelosi told reporters during her press briefing on June 22nd. “This is no accident, it is no coincidence. It is a plan on the part of Republicans.” Apparently that “plan” was in place long before the DOJ attempted to overturn photo voter ID laws passed in states such as South Carolina and Texas. Those particular “voter suppression initiatives” were upheld by a 6-3 Supreme Court ruling in 2008, when the Court held that photo-ID requirements were both constitutional and necessary to protect “the integrity and reliability of the electoral process,” according to liberal Justice John Paul Stevens
MSNBC’s Chris Matthews also insisted that citing Mr. Holder for contempt had a racial undercurrent. After noting that the 2010 election giving Republicans control of the House gave them their “real prize” of “subpoena power,” Matthews wondered out loud if going after Mr. Holder was “sort of stop-and-frisk at the highest level? Go after the attorney general, get him to empty his pockets, stand in the spotlight as long as they can and see if anything happens?”
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