As House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, D.-N.Y., last week called for Attorney General William P. Barr to be held in contempt of Congress, his fellow Democrats were rapidly seconding the move — and pulling no punches.
“He lied to Congress,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D.-CA told reporters at her weekly press conference, adding that ignoring congressional subpoenas — as Barr is charged for refusing to testify before Nadler’s committee — was one of the articles of impeachment against Richard Nixon.
But Pelosi and many House Democrats sang a completely different House tune the last (and, so far, only) time Congress went the full length and held an attorney general in contempt.
That was on June 28, 2012, when the House voted by 255-to-67 (including 17 Democrats in favor and two Republicans against) to hold Barack Obama’s Attorney General Eric Holder in criminal contempt for failure to turn over documents related to the notorious “Operation Fast and Furious” (a move by the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Bureau to permit sales of guns to criminals across the Mexican border in the hope it would lead to the capture of drug cartel leaders).
Then-House Minority Leader Pelosi completely ignored the specific charge against Holder and told reporters that the entire concept of holding the attorney general in contempt was a Republican plot to suppress Democratic votes in November.
“It is no accident, it is no coincidence, that the attorney general of the United States is the person responsible for making sure that voter suppression does not happen in our country,” Pelosi told reporters a week before the Holder vote, “These very same people who are holding him in contempt are part of a nationwide scheme to suppress the vote. They’re closely allied with those who are suffocating the system: unlimited special interest secret money.”
When the vote took place June 28, Pelosi and dozens of Democrats abstained and walked out of the House chamber. Many of them shouted “shame!”
(Holder was eventually cleared of any wrongdoing in Fast and Furious by the Inspector General of the Department of Justice. In August, 2014, however, U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson ordered the Justice Department to provide Congress with some of the previously withheld documents that led Congress to vote to hold Holder in contempt).
It will be interesting to see Speaker Pelosi explain how her views on holding an attorney general in contempt of Congress have evolved.
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.
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