Updated: 5:05 p.m.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney today defended Attorney General Eric Holder’s cooperation with the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee’s investigation into the “Fast and Furious” gun smuggling operation.
Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) announced today that his committee will hold a vote June 20 on a report relating to the committee’s efforts to hold Holder in contempt of Congress for failing to produce some documents subpoenaed by the panel.
Carney said Holder has taken the allegations that a gun-running sting resulted in thousands of guns being lost to criminal elements in Mexico “very seriously” and has asked his own inspector general to investigate.
He added that the Justice Department has handed over more than 7,600 pages of documents to the committee and has appeared eight times before Congress to discuss the scandal.
Carney then referred reporters to comments by Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), who told the Hill in March that the investigation is, in part, “politics.”
“Given the Justice Department’s efforts to accommodate the committee investigation, I can only refer you to the Republican House Judiciary member who recently conceded that this investigation is ‘politics,’” Carney said.
King’s comments appeared in a story about House GOP’s leadership’s reluctance to pursue the contempt citation against Holder. King reportedly said, “I think leadership doesn’t want to be seen as using the gavels here for political purposes. I think there’s a bit of an aversion to that. Me? I have no reservations about that. This is politics.”
Since then, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) have gotten behind Issa’s efforts to compel the Justice Department to comply with the committee subpoena.
Carney also said the White House does not see a need to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate national security leaks relating to cyber-attacks against Iran, the U.S. drone strike program, the president’s involvement in selecting which terrorism suspects should be targeted for assassination and other stories that have recently appeared in the news.
Carney cited the administration’s record in prosecuting leaks of classified information in the past in indicating that the White House believes that the two U.S. attorneys Holder has appointed will be able to independently investigate the source of the information.
“I think our seriousness about this matter in general — about these matters in general has been demonstrated while the president has been in office. I would refer you to the Department of Justice and the FBI when it regards questions of matters under investigation or potential investigation. So there is no need for a special counsel. These things have consistently been investigated when that’s appropriate,” Carney said.