In answering Issa’s questions, Holder strongly disputed that the wiretap applications should have tipped off the officials who reviewed them about the tactics used in Fast and Furious.
But the debate devolved into a circus-like atmosphere before it could be completed.
Watt, who had already complained, like Jackson Lee, about how Issa was treating Holder, began shouting “regular order!” repeatedly to indicate that Issa’s time was up.
Smith tried to intervene, saying that Holder would be allowed to answer Issa’s question, but Watt did not relent.
The episode ended with a speech from Conyers urging colleagues against perpetuating the hostile atmosphere.
Issa’s pointed conflict in the hearing with two African-American members comes as Republicans have privately indicated they are sensitive to scrutinizing Holder, the first black attorney general serving under the first black president, because of his race.
Before the hearing, a Justice Department spokeswoman released a series of letters from organizations supporting Holder and urging against a contempt vote.
The list of groups includes civil rights organizations and a group representing black law enforcement officials. The latest such letter came from the heads of the Congressional Black Caucus, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, and the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus.