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Justice Will Not Prosecute Holder For Contempt Of Congress

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.
Gerardo Mora
Getty Images
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.

The United States Justice Department said it will not prosecute Attorney General Eric Holder for contempt of Congress.

"The Department has determined that the Attorney General's response to the subpoena issued by the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform does not constitute a crime, and therefore the Department will not bring the congressional contempt citation before a grand jury or take any other action to prosecute the Attorney General," the Deputy Attorney General told House Speaker John Boehner in a letter.

As we reported, the House voted that Holder was in contempt of Congress for failing to turn over documents related to the gun-walking operation "Fast and Furious." The White House has claimed executive privilege on the emails and documents, saying they show internal deliberation after the program became public.

The AP reports that this means Holder's own department will do nothing further on matter.

As part of yesterday's vote, however, the Republican-controlled House gave the Oversight Committee authorization to sue Holder in federal court. That will be the next chapter in a constitutionally-charged struggle.

In a letter to U.S. Attorney Ronald Machen, Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley said the law is clear and it mandates the Justice Department — and Machen's office in particular — to take the contempt charge before a grand jury.

"It is not optional," wrote Grassley.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.