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Holder and committee chairman Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) met Tuesday night for about 20 minutes in a last-ditch effort by the attorney general to avert a contempt vote. Holder offered to hold a briefing with relevant House and Senate committee members and then hand over more documents -- he has already provided Congress with more than 7,600 -- that don't breach confidentiality rules. Issa refused and said he wants the documents first, by Wednesday, before even considering whether to drop the contempt vote.
"At this point, we simply do not have the documents we have repeatedly said we need to justify the postponement of a contempt vote in committee," Issa said in a statement after the meeting. "While I still hope the department will reconsider its decision so tomorrow's vote can be postponed, after this meeting I cannot say that I am optimistic."
Issa's months-long quest for documents stems from his investigation into the Justice Department's Fast and Furious probe, a failed operation that put guns in the hands of illicit gun purchasers as a way to track Mexican smuggling cartels. Issa has been pressing Holder for documents dating from February 2011 to December 2011 to gauge how the department handled the operation. Justice Department officials maintain they have done their best to comply with Issa's subpoenas without breaking the law.
Holder told reporters after Tuesday's meeting that he met the congressman "in good faith" and made an "extraordinary offer" to resolve the matter. But Issa still wouldn't bite.
"I have to say, given the extraordinary nature of the offer that we made and given the extraordinary way that we have shared materials to date, I think we are actually involved more in political gamesmanship as opposed to trying to get the information they say they want," Holder said. "Nevertheless, we are prepared to provide these materials, to brief on these materials, to answer questions about these materials."
Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), the ranking Democrat on the committee, said Holder "bent over backwards" to reach a deal and bring the contempt threats to an end, but "the goalposts keep changing."
Source: Huffington Post | Jennifer Bendery