US Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) and Attorney General Eric Holder went toe to toe in a verbal squabble Tuesday that had supporters for both sides cheering – and others calling it another example of a broken government.
Both men seemed to lose their cool.
A vocal critic of the Justice Department’s botched “Fast and Furious” operation, Gohmert pressed Holder for why the department had not turned over documents Gohmert and other members of Congress had requested.
“Sir, I’ve read you what your department promised, and it is inadequate, and I realize that contempt is not a big deal to our attorney general, but it is important that we have proper oversight,” Gohmert said, referencing a 2012 vote in which the House held Holder in contempt for failing to turn over documents.
Visibly upset, Holder leaned back in his chair, then pointed to Gohmert.
“You don’t want to go there, buddy. You don’t want to go there, okay?” Holder said. “You should not assume that that is not a big deal to me. I think that it was inappropriate. I think it was unjust, but never think that that was not a big deal to me. Don’t ever think that.”
Said Gohmert, “Well I’m just looking for evidence, and normally we’re known by our fruits, and there have been no indications that it was a big deal, because your department has still not been forthcoming in producing the documents that were the subject of the contempt.”
Holder replied that Gohmert was driven by “the gun lobby” and that the department was willing to work with Congress.
“The documents that we were prepared to make available then, we’re prepared to make available now that would have obviated the whole need,” Holder said.
“Sir,” Gohmert replied, “we’ve been trying to get to the bottom of Fast and Furious where people died, where at least a couple hundred Mexicans died, and we can’t get the information to get to the bottom of that, so I don’t need lectures from you about contempt, because it is very difficult to deal with asking questions.”
“And I don’t need lectures from you either,” Holder said.
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“As a former judge,” Gohmert said, “I’d never have asked questions of someone who’s been held in contempt. We waited ‘til the contempt was purged, and then we asked questions.”
It’s not the first time Gohmert has been in the spotlight for accusations against the Obama administration. Last year he raised concerns about what he called the “Ready Reserve Corps” under Obamacare responding to “emergency response missions.” Specifically, his concerns related to the trainees working in secrecy under the guidance of the Department of Homeland Security.
“I want to know are they using weapons to train, or are they being taught to use syringes and health care items?” Gohmert asked at the time. “Some kind of secret security force is something the United States is never supposed to have …. but until we get enough members of Congress stirred up over the things I’ve been preaching about then we’re not likely to get answers.”