Most Americans approve of the House of Representatives’ vote to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress, but a majority also believe the vote was politically motivated.
Fifty-three percent of respondents in the national CNN poll said they approved of the congressional measure that culminated a long-running standoff between the Justice Department and House Republicans over Operation Fast and Furious. About 33 percent disapproved of the vote, and 13 percent had no opinion, according to the poll.
At the same time, though, most respondents indicated that they believed the contempt vote — the first of which to come against a sitting cabinet member — was less about “real ethical concerns” and more about gaining political advantage. Sixty-one percent of respondents believed GOP lawmakers had political motivations, while 34 percent said lawmakers were motivated by real concerns. Another 5 percent said they had no opinion.
A majority of respondents, 69 percent, also said President Barack Obama should drop his claim of executive privilege over the documents at the center of the contempt measure, opting instead to answer all the questions posed by the congressional committee. Twenty-seven percent said the president should keep his claim of privilege intact, while another 4 percent said they had no opinion.
Meanwhile, Holder’s approval rating has increased only slightly since he took office in 2009. It has gone from 23 percent to 25 percent in the three-year stretch of time, according to the poll.
Last month, the House voted to find the attorney general in contempt of Congress for not producing thousands of documents under subpoena as part of the Fast and Furious investigation. The botched gun-walking operation was headed by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and aimed to track thousands of guns smuggled over the border. The operation backfired, however, and hundreds of guns went missing. Two were found at the scene of a shootout between U.S. Border Patrol Agents and Mexican bandits. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was killed in the gunfire.
The contempt vote went mostly along party lines, with most Republicans saying the department was stonewalling the congressional investigation. Democrats, on the other hand, said the GOP lawmakers were carrying out an election-year witch hunt.
The poll was generated with answers from 1,390 registered voters and has an error margin of 2.5 percentage points plus or minus. It was conducted from June 28 to July 1.