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Eric Holder Attacks Escalate

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call
Attorney General Eric Holder prepares to testify today at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on oversight of the Justice Department.

Top Congressional Republicans today turned up the heat on Attorney General Eric Holder, while the nation’s top law enforcement official warned of an “impending constitutional crisis.”

Sen. John Cornyn (Texas), who heads the National Republican Senatorial Committee and is a top contender for a leadership position in the next Congress, called on Holder to resign, even as the attorney general told the Senate Judiciary Committee that he was ready to make major concessions to Republicans investigating “Fast and Furious,” a botched gun-smuggling operation.

At the same time, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said he would rebuff Holder’s recent offers to meet with House GOP leaders until Holder produces Fast and Furious documents demanded by House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.).

The resignation call came at a hearing in which GOP Senators unloaded on Holder over national security leaks, demanding a special prosecutor rather than the two U.S. attorneys whom Holder appointed to lead an investigation. And it was buffered by Republican Senators taking to the floor at the same time as the Judiciary hearing to demand a special counsel be appointed to investigate leaks.

The Republican pile-on over the two issues, which comes as House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) has been sniping at the Obama White House with a health care investigation, shows a new willingness by the GOP to engage in an all-out assault on Democrats on oversight matters.

“I am prepared to make compromises,” Holder told the panel, but “I’ve got to have a willing partner.” But Republicans were in no mood to give quarter.

Citing the Fast and Furious scandal and recent national security leaks, Cornyn   implied Holder had not been truthful with Congress and said, “It’s more with sorrow than with anger that I would say that you leave me no alternative than to join those that call upon you to resign your office.”

Clearly taken aback, Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) urged Holder to respond. “Well, Mr. Attorney General, you certainly have the — the right to respond to that. The Senator from Texas has accused you of perjury, which is a criminal offense,” he said.

Holder said that a long statement by Cornyn of the attorney general’s faults was “breathtaking in its inaccuracy” and that “I don’t have any intention of resigning.”

“If you want to talk about Fast and Furious, I’m the attorney general that put an end to the misguided tactics that were used in Fast and Furious,” Holder said.

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