A House committee has voted along party lines to recommend holding Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress for failing to turn over subpoenaed documents relating to the botched "Fast and Furious" weapons sting operation.
President Obama had asserted his executive privilege over the controversial documents, allowing the Justice Department to withhold the information.
As a result of the program, more than 1,000 weapons were lost in Mexico and may have ended up in the hands of drug cartels.
"Our purpose has never been to hold the Attorney General in contempt. Our purpose has always been to get the information the committee needs to complete its work that it is not only entitled to but obligated to do," says Rep. Darrell Issa (R).
The Justice Department says it has already handed over thousands of pages of documents but will not turn over any information that could jeopardize future criminal cases or reveal classified government law enforcement methods.
Holder says he is willing to negotiate but, so far, his offers have been rejected.
Now, some committee members are more curious than ever about just what's in those documents.
"Why would the president claim executive privilege unless there was something very, very important that he felt that should not be made known to this committee and possibly to the public?" says Indiana Rep. Dan Burton (R).
Some Democrats are accusing Republicans of playing political games during an election year.
The Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is supposed to root out problems and find ways to reform how government works. It shouldn't be a political witch hunt.
The full house is expected to consider the recommendation for holding the Attorney General in contempt next week.
In a statement the attorney general called the vote extraordinary, unprecedented and entirely unnecessary. He called it an attempt to provoke conflict between Congress and the Executive Branch.
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