The House of Representatives has voted to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress.
The vote was pushed by Republicans who say Holder failed to release all the documents they wanted about a gun-tracking operation. Holder is the first sitting Cabinet member to be held in contempt.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called the vote "an abuse of power."
She and several other Democrats even walked out of Capitol Hill in protest of Thursday's vote.
Emails by Attorney General Eric Holder from early 2011 expressed the need to get to the bottom of allegations that a risky law enforcement tactic had been used in Operation Fast and Furious.
In the early days of the controversy, two of Holder's e-mails and one by Deputy Attorney General James Cole expressed growing concern that something might have gone wrong in the flawed federal gun-smuggling probe.
In one e-mail, Holder tells aides, quote: "We need answers on this."
A criminal contempt resolution would send the matter to the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia.
Civil contempt would allow the House to go to court to try to force Holder to turn over certain documents.
No other attorney general has faced a contempt vote by the full House or Senate.
One week ago, Holder called the contempt vote "unwarranted, unnecessary and unprecedented." (AP)