Last week, as the U.S. House was preparing to take a vote to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in criminal and civil contempt for refusing to turn over documents related to the bungled gun-trafficking investigation known as Fast and Furious, more than 100 congressional members walked off the floor in protest. Representative Mike Doyle (D-PA-14) was among them.
"No mater what the Attorney General did or the White House did, Chairman [Darrell] Issa was determined to move forward with this contempt citation strictly on political grounds," said Doyle. "We decided we were not going to be a party to that."
The issue became more complicated when President Barack Obama invoked a broad form of executive privilege to keep private certain communications.
Doyle noted that General Holder turned over hundreds of pages of documents. "Every document he was allowed to legally turn over, he turned over," said Doyle.
The Fast and Furious operation had employed an investigative tactic known as "gun walking," where high-powered guns were allowed to fall into the hands of Mexican crime cartels in an effort to dismantle their networks.
The operation identified more than 2,000 weapons suspected of being illicitly purchased, but agents lost track of many of the guns. Some 1,400 of them have yet to be recovered.
Republicans demanded the documents in question for an ongoing investigation, but critics say their arguments focused more on the need for closure for the family of slain Border Patrol agent Brian Terry. Two guns identified by the Fast and Furious operation were found near his body after a shootout in Arizona.
"The people who really knew the facts about Fast and Furious weren't even allowed to testify. This Chairman has refused ten different requests from Democrats for a hearing with Ken Melson, who is the former director of the ATF, which was the agency in charge of Fast and Furious," said Doyle.
The Justice Department declared Friday that Attorney General Eric Holder's actions before Congress do not constitute a crime and he won't be prosecuted.
Jason Altmire (D-4), Mark Critz (D-12), and Tim Murphy (R-18) vote for censure.
Congressman Mike Doyle will appear on Essential Pittsburgh at noon today.