Boehner: ‘All Options Are on the Table’ in Potential Contempt Citation Against AG Holder

By Elizabeth Harrington | May 10, 2012 | 2:56pm EDT

Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) (AP Photo)

( – Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) said he supports the efforts of House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) to “get to the bottom” of the Fast and Furious gun-running scandal, and added that “all options are on the table” concerning a possible contempt of Congress citation against Attorney General Eric Holder.

Rep. Issa is currently considering that action.  Issa released a 64-page memorandum last week detailing the case against Holder and the Department of Justice (DOJ), noting that the memo "explains issues for Committee Members to consider in making a decision about holding Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress for his Department's refusal to provide subpoenaed documents."

At a Capitol Hill press conference on Thursday, Boehner said, “Chairman Issa and members of his committee are doing a very good job, and I do believe when it comes to Fast and Furious that we’ve got to get to the bottom of what happened and who’s responsible."

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“The committee is doing that, I’m supporting their efforts,” he said.

A news story by Politico, published on Thursday, claimed that the House Republican leadership was slowing Issa’s efforts to bring a vote against Holder due to concerns over political backlash in an election year.

Today, when asked specifically if he supported a contempt citation, Boehner said, “all options are on the table.”

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.)

“I’m supporting their efforts to hold those people in the Department of Justice accountable for what happened,” he said.  “The committee has work to do, they know what they have to do, they’re pursuing a lot of unanswered questions, and I would hope that they’ll be continuing that.”

“Would that include a contempt citation?” a reporter asked.

“There’s -- all options are on the table,” Boehner said.

Boehner did not offer a time frame on the process.

The House Oversight Committee began an investigation in February 2011 into the ill-fated Operation Fast and Furious.  The operation, which began in September 2009, saw the Phoenix office of the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives supervise the sale of guns to straw purchasers with the intent of tracing the guns to Mexican drug trafficking organizations and prosecuting their members. The ATF allowed about 2,000 guns to be sold in this manner.

Attorney General Eric Holder. (AP Photo/J.Scott Applewhite)

The operation came under congressional scrutiny after it was linked to the December 2010 murder of U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry at the hands of Mexican bandits.

An investigative report, spearheaded by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), found that most of the weapons provided to Mexican criminals under the operation were going to the Sinaloa cartel, arguably one of the world’s largest drug trafficking organizations.

Chairman Issa has held three hearings, 24 interviews with witnesses, and sent the Justice Department more than 50 letters and two subpoenas for documents.

“The Justice Department, however, continues to withhold documents critical to understanding decision making and responsibility in Operation Fast and Furious,” reads Issa’s memorandum.

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