Vote to Sanction Holder Escalates Gun-Probe Fight

by
June 21, 2012

By EVAN PEREZ, The Wall Street Journal

WASHINGTON—A standoff between Republicans and the Obama administration over a botched gun-trafficking operation escalated Wednesday, with a House committee voting to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress.

The party-line vote came hours after President Barack Obama, for the first time, asserted executive privilege, aiming to block Republicans from gaining access to Justice Department documents about the operation.

House Republican leaders said they would bring the contempt measure to the House floor next week. If the full House votes to support it, then a contempt citation could be referred to the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, an appointee of Mr. Obama’s who is in Mr. Holder’s chain of command.

If it ends up in the courts, the dispute would raise constitutional questions about the power of the executive branch vs. Congress. Previous such battles have ended before reaching that stage with some kind of truce between the sides.

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