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Eric Holder's contempt: 'Scoundrelous' behavior

| Friday, June 29, 2012, 9:01 p.m.

The practical effect of Congress finding Attorney General Eric Holder in criminal and civil contempt for his stonewalling in its investigation of the Operation Fast and Furious gun-running scandal is a mixed bag.

The criminal case now is referred to the U.S. Attorney's Office in Washington, D.C., for prosecution. And given that federal prosecutors fall under the purview of the Justice Department that Mr. Holder heads, well, you get the picture.

But the civil contempt case won't face such a hurdle. It has teeth and likely will result in a long, if not revealing, court battle that will leave deep bite marks.

It is no small matter to become the first sitting Cabinet member to be found in contempt. But Holder reacted as Holder reacts worst — by rationalizing and obfuscating the real issue.

Where Congress (Republicans and a growing number of Democrats) properly see their constitutional duty to provide executive branch oversight, Holder shouts “POLITICS!” ­— which typically is the last refuge of scoundrels caught in what's turning out to be a massive web of prevarications.

Equally “scoundrelous” were efforts by some Democrats to paint the contempt vote as “racist” efforts to “suppress the vote” this fall.

We've long held that Eric Holder should resign. We still hold that view. And it likely will be the only way to get to the bottom of a very sad chapter in American history.

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