Updated: 1:19 p.m.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) today accused House Republicans of using contempt of Congress proceedings against Attorney General Eric Holder to further a “scheme” to undermine his efforts to prevent voter suppression.
“It’s really important to note how this is connected to some of the other decisions. It is no accident, it is no coincidence, that the Attorney General of the United States, is the person responsible for making sure that voter suppression does not happen in our country, that issues that relate to the civil liberties of the American people are upheld,” Pelosi said at her weekly press availability.
The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee voted along party lines to hold Holder in contempt over what Republicans say is his lack of cooperation in their investigation of the botched gun sting “Fast and Furious.”
“These very same people holding him in contempt are part of a nationwide scheme to suppress the vote. They are closely allied with those who are suffocating the system: unlimited special interest secret money and they are poisoning the debate.”
Pelosi said the intent of the investigation is to harm Holder.
“Contempt of Congress? Contempt of Congress? To frivolously use that really important vehicle to undermine the person who’s assigned to stop the voter suppression in our country. I’m telling you, this is connected. It is no accident. It is a decision, and it is as clear as can be. It’s not only to monopolize his time, it’s to undermine his name,” she said.
Pelosi was pressed on how the current conflict between the House GOP and the Justice Department differed from when the House, then under her leadership as Speaker in 2007, held two White House officials from the George W. Bush administration in contempt of Congress.
Pelosi said there is a “vast difference” between the circumstances of the two instances and deferred detailed questions to Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), ranking member of the Oversight committee, who she said she was “so very, very proud” of for how he had represented Democrats during recent days.
Pelosi unloaded on Republican policies, describing them as holding a radical political philosophy.
“They are the party that makes Adam Smith look like a Keynesian. They are laissez, laissez, laissez, laissez, laissez, laissez, laissez-fair. No supervision. No regulation. No discipline,” Pelosi said.
Frederick Hill, a spokesman for Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) defended the panel’s probe and alluded to the December 2010 murder of Border Patrol agent Brian Terry, in which guns stemming from Fast and Furious were found at his murder scene. “For Minority Leader Pelosi to dismiss this tragedy and say the investigation is really about voter suppression is offensive and wrong.”
The documents that the contempt charge are centered on date from February 2011, when the Justice Department denied knowing about Fast and Furious tactics, and December 2011, when it rescinded that position.
Asked about Pelosi’s allegation, Speaker John Boehner said the investigation was a “serious matter.” Boehner said shortly after Wednesday’s vote that unless Holder produced the documents in question, the House would vote next week on the contempt resolution.
“The American people deserve the truth about what happened in Fast and Furious,” he said.