Holder in Contempt

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
June 29 2012 10:00 AM

Holder in Contempt

Perhaps you were distracted by some other news yesterday, and you didn't see my story on the long-awaited contempt vote for Attorney General Eric Holder. You can catch up now.

“When you say you represent the Terry family, you do not,” said Issa. He produced the letter. “Among the statements in there are—his statements do not represent the Terry family. … he has never spoken to the Terry family.”
Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), a former D.A. with a gift for drama, cast an even darker pall on the mood. Democrats, he said, acted as though they’d settle for “50 percent of the truth, a third of the truth.” How could they? “Have you ever sat down with these parents who have lost a child? It is a humbling, emotional, life-altering experience. All they want is the truth!”
Gowdy’s voice broke as he finished; the Republican side of the chamber burst into applause. Chaffetz patted his colleague on the back. Issa sent a tweet: “That was amazing.”

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The contempt vote in and of itself doesn't get Congress any closer to the documents it wants. The AP-style writethroughs of the vote implied that But I'd argue that the scheduling worked out for everyone. Conservatives got Holder flayed in public. Bryan Terry's family got to see members of Congress commemorating and demanding justice for their son. Liberals got to shame Issa with a walk-out. And none of it made A1. Some time ago, the Congressional Research Service put together portfolios on all of the previous contempt votes. You'll notice that these end in one of two ways: Sputtering out, or actually succeeding to punish someone who committed petty crimes.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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