The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has filed a lawsuit against Attorney General Eric Holder today in an attempt to compel him to produce documents related to Operation Fast and Furious.
Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) tweeted late Sunday: “We are filing charges against Attorney General Eric Holder tomorrow #fastandfurious.” Court records show the lawsuit has been filed in federal court, but it is not yet available online.
In June, Holder was voted in contempt of Congress by the House of Representatives in a 255-67 vote mostly along party lines. Days later, the Justice Department signaled it would not be pursuing the criminal contempt charges in court, prompting GOP lawmakers to threaten a lawsuit in federal court. The dispute centers on documents related to the botched gun-tracing operation Fast and Furious.
President Barack Obama asserted executive privilege over the documents at issue, and the committee is asking the court to overrule that decision.
The operation, headed by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, aimed to track about 2,000 guns sold to straw buyers and then smuggled over the Mexican border. It backfired, however, when hundreds of guns went missing. Two guns from the operation were found at the scene of a shootout between U.S. Border Patrol agents and Mexican bandits in 2010. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was killed in the gunfire.
Issa says the committee should be given the documents to help determine who was at fault for the mistakes made during the operation. Holder has said the investigation has become a political witch hunt and that many of the requested documents relate to ongoing investigations and cannot be disclosed.
Committee ranking member Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) said Monday that he believes the lawsuit is merely a political ploy.
“It seems clear that House Republican leaders do not want to resolve the contempt issue and prefer to generate unnecessary conflict with the Administration as the election nears,” Cummings said in a statement. “Unfortunately, the American public suffers as House Republicans disregard the real work that needs to be done.”
UPDATE: This story has been updated to include Rep. Elijah Cummings’ statement and to include information about the lawsuit’s filing on Monday.