WASHINGTON (CBS DC) — At a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Tuesday, Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Texas, refused to question U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, referencing that Holder was held in contempt of Congress, and that any other American who failed to comply with a Justice Department subpoena “would be in jail.”
Farenthold waived his time to question Holder due to his refusal to comply with Congress’ document request.
“I’m committed to maintaining the Constitutional balance of power and the authority that this legislative branch has, and I just don’t think it’s appropriate that Mr. Holder be here,” Farenthold said.
He continued, “If an American citizen had not complied with one of the Justice Department’s subpoenas, they would be in jail and not sitting here in front of me, testifying.”
Farenthold yielded his remaining time to a committee colleague.
The Tuesday hearing saw multiple Republican members of Congress ridiculing Holder, making continued references to when the Republican-led House held him in contempt of Congress two years ago after failing to turn over specific documents tied to the Fast and Furious gun-running scandal.
Rep. Louie Gohmert exchanged a tense back-and-forth with Holder, saying the attorney general’s refusal to hand over documents in a separate terrorism case showed his indifference to congressional rules.
“I realize that contempt is not a big deal to our attorney general, but it is important that we have proper oversight.”
Holder immediately shot back, “You don’t want to go there, buddy. You don’t want to go there, OK?”
“You should not assume that that is not a big deal to me,” Holder added, pointing a finger toward the congressman. “I think it was inappropriate. I think it was unjust. But never think that was not a big deal to me. Don’t ever think that.”
Holder and Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., also engaged in a rigid line of questioning, with Holder calling Issa’s behavior “shameful.”
Holder responded to the tense hearing on Wednesday, saying in a National Action Network speech that congressional critics are using “unprecedented, unwarranted, ugly and divisive” attacks against him and the Obama administration.