WASHINGTON – Attorney General Eric Holder engaged in a tense exchange with Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, at a House hearing Tuesday in which the congressman confronted him with the Justice Department’s refusal to turn over documents related to the prosecution of an Islamic charity.
Gohmert reminded Holder of repeated requests for records given to defense lawyers in the case of the Richardson, Texas-based Holy Land Foundation, whose founders were convicted of funneling $12 million to the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas.
“I realize that contempt is not a big deal to our attorney general,” Gohmert said, referring to House votes in 2012 finding Holder in contempt for failing to turn over documents related to the Justice Department’s response to the Operation Fast and Furious gun-running scandal.
“You don’t want to go there, buddy,” Holder retorted. “I believe that was inappropriate and unjust; but never think that was not a big deal to me.”
Gohmert replied that there “have been no indications that was not a big deal in your department, because they’ve not been forthcoming in producing the documents that were the subject of contempt.”
Holder scoffed: “This was all about the gun lobby.”
The two men talked over each other.
“We’ve been trying to get to the bottom of Fast and Furious where people died,” Gohmert shot back. “I don’t need lectures from you about contempt.”
“I don’t need lectures from you either,” Holder said.
In the House Judiciary Committee hearing, Holder was unable to provide members from both sides of the aisle with clear answers they posed about allegations of failure to uphold and enforce federal provisions on a myriad of laws ranging from Obamacare to drug enforcement.
When questioned by Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., on whether constituents in his district will not be penalized by the IRS if they do not sign up for Obamacare, Holder said, “No, that is not the way the statute is written.”
DeSantis further grilled Holder on the reasons why he chooses to “enforce the law of the land in some cases but not others” in a line of questioning about whether the Controlled Substance Abuse Act of 1970 prohibits the sale and possession of marijuana.
“Technically, yes,” Holder said.
Holder also could not provide a reason as to why 15 members of the committee still have not received a response to their inquiry into the legal basis for the decision to delay the Obamacare employer mandate.
“I apologize if there has not been a response to that – to that inquiry, but I think, yeah, that’s certainly worthy of a response,” Holder said.
Holder cited limited resources when asked about the Justice Department’s picking and choosing which federal laws merit enforcement and about the allocation of the agency’s funds.
When Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Ga. Asked Holder how much of the $27 billion allocated to the Justice Department goes to private prisons, Holder’s response was, “I simply don’t know.”
“Our work continues today, because the Department of Justice has undertaken its own form of overreach in several instances,” said Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va.