How Eric Holder Could End Up in Jail

How Eric Holder Could End Up in Jail

House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa is circulating a draft citation finding Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress.  If convicted of multiple counts of criminal contempt, Holder could be facing extensive jail time and hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines. He has failed to turn over tens of thousands of documents, and each document could result in separate fines.

Holder could also be facing charges of perjury and obstruction of justice.  Under oath on May 3, 2011, he indicated he had only known about Fast and Furious for “a few weeks,” when in fact he had received memoranda on the program dating back to July 2010. The Fast and Furious project was administered by his Department’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

Holder has both obstructed justice and engaged in contempt of Congress by yielding less than ten percent of the documents requested (some 7,000 out of 80,000 documents).

The Phoenix ATF office kept a record of the firearms’ serial numbers that gun dealers were told to sell to Fast and Furious buyers, who then in turn sold them to the Sinaloa Cartel.  Of the 2500 Fast and Furious guns, some 600 have been recovered at crime scenes.  Not only that, they have resulted in the murders of more than 300 Mexican nationals and two U.S. federal agents.

If the Committee were to approve the issuing of the citation, the measure would then be placed before the full House of Representatives.  What would happen next if the House approved the citation?

If the House goes for civil contempt, lawyers for the House would then go to the DC District Federal Court to seek a writ of mandamus.  Upon approval, the court would order Holder to turn over the documents, and, if he refused or failed to do so, the court would then order US Marshalls to arrest the Attorney General.

There is a detention area in the Capitol complex, although the Court would presumably incarcerate Holder on Pennsylvania Avenue in the Prettyman Federal Court House.   He would certainly cause less trouble in such a venue.