Posts Tagged Eric Holder
Attorney General Eric Holder has a solid record on voting rights, and he’s criticized Republican state lawmaker’s efforts to restrict the franchise in the past — at one point comparing voter ID laws to an unconstitutional poll tax. At a speech in New York yesterday, Holder added a new line to his previous attacks on voter suppression, suggesting that DOJ will respond with legal action if any Republican state lawmakers move forward with their proposals to rig the Electoral College:
Long lines are unnecessary. Shortened voting periods are unwise and inconsistent with the historic ideal of expanded participation in the process.. Let me be clear again: we will not sit by and allow the slow unraveling of an electoral system that so many sacrificed so much to construct.
There are two versions of the GOP’s election rigging plans, both of which Republicans want to enact exclusively in blue states. One version would allocate electoral votes in several targeted blue states by Congressional district, rather than to the winner of the state as a whole. The other version, which is currently being pushed by Pennsylvania Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi (R), would allocate electoral votes proportionally — so that Mitt Romney would have won a significant chunk of Pennsylvania’s electoral voters even though President Obama carried the state. As with the congressional districts plan, Pileggi’s election-rigging plan would give away electoral votes to Republicans in his blue state, while still keeping all red state electors in GOP hands:
Holder’s suggestion that he would bring the full weight of the Department of Justice down upon any state that tried to steal the White House is certainly welcome, although it alone will not be enough to stop these election-rigging plans. Ultimately, the Justice Department’s ability to protect voting rights depends on a Supreme Court that is not openly hostile to the franchise — and the Roberts Court’s contempt for voting rights pervades their decisions. If the GOP election-rigging plans are to be defeated, it will require citizens in states like Pennsylvania raising their voice in outrage at this blatant attempt to steal American democracy.
- AG Holder: ‘We Will Not Sit By’ While Republicans Rig The Electoral College (thinkprogress.org)
- Democrats Hold Near Lock on Electoral College (politicalwire.com)
- Holder criticizes some states over electoral college maneuvers, calls some prison sentences too long (dailykos.com)
- Michigan GOP backs electoral college rigging scheme (tv.msnbc.com)
- That zombie Republican electoral college rigging scam — it lives! (washingtonmonthly.com)
- 13 GOP Pennsylvania Senators Introduce New Plan To Rig The Electoral College For Republicans (thinkprogress.org)
- The Republcan Pennsylvania Plan To Rig The Electoral College (alan.com)
- Electoral-vote scheme still simmering in Pennsylvania (maddowblog.msnbc.com)
- Ed Rendell on election rigging in Pennsylvania: “A really big deal” (democrats.org)
- GOP leader revisits Electoral College plan (triblive.com)
The Government Has It Bass-Ackwards: Failing To Prosecute Criminal Fraud by the Big Banks Is Killing – NOT Saving – the Economy « naked capitalism
Cross posted from Washington’s Blo
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said today:
I am concerned that the size of some of these institutions [banks] becomes so large that it does become difficult for us to prosecute them when we are hit with indications that if you do prosecute, if you do bring a criminal charge, it will have a negative impact on the national economy, perhaps even the world economy
As we’ve repeatedly noted, this is wholly untrue.
If the big banks were important to the economy, would so many prominent economists, financial experts and bankers be calling for them to be broken up?
If the big banks generated prosperity for the economy, would they have to be virtually 100% subsidized to keep them afloat?
If the big banks were helpful for an economic recovery, would they be prolonging our economic instability?
In fact, failing to prosecute criminal fraud has been destabilizing the economy since at least 2007 … and will cause huge crashes in the future.
After all, the main driver of economic growth is a strong rule of law.
Nobel prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz says that we have to prosecute fraud or else the economy won’t recover:
The legal system is supposed to be the codification of our norms and beliefs, things that we need to make our system work. If the legal system is seen as exploitative, then confidence in our whole system starts eroding. And that’s really the problem that’s going on.
I think we ought to go do what we did in the S&L [crisis] and actually put many of these guys in prison. Absolutely. These are not just white-collar crimes or little accidents. There were victims. That’s the point. There were victims all over the world.
Economists focus on the whole notion of incentives. People have an incentive sometimes to behave badly, because they can make more money if they can cheat. If our economic system is going to work then we have to make sure that what they gain when they cheat is offset by a system of penalties.
Nobel prize winning economist George Akerlof has demonstrated that failure to punish white collar criminals – and instead bailing them out- creates incentives for more economic crimes and further destruction of the economy in the future.
(Review of the data on accounting fraud confirms that fraud goes up as criminal prosecutions go down.)
The Director of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s enforcement division told Congress:
Recovery from the fallout of the financial crisis requires important efforts on various fronts, and vigorous enforcement is an essential component, as aggressive and even-handed enforcement will meet the public’s fair expectation that those whose violations of the law caused severe loss and hardship will be held accountable. And vigorous law enforcement efforts will help vindicate the principles that are fundamental to the fair and proper functioning of our markets: that no one should have an unjust advantage in our markets; that investors have a right to disclosure that complies with the federal securities laws; and that there is a level playing field for all investors.
Paul Zak (Professor of Economics and Department Chair, as well as the founding Director of the Center for Neuroeconomics Studies at Claremont Graduate University, Professor of Neurology at Loma Linda University Medical Center, and a senior researcher at UCLA) and Stephen Knack (a Lead Economist in the World Bank’s Research Department and Public Sector Governance Department) wrote a paper called Trust and Growth, showing that enforcing the rule of law – i.e. prosecuting white collar fraud – is necessary for a healthy economy.
One of the leading business schools in America – the Wharton School of Business – published an essay by a psychologist on the causes and solutions to the economic crisis. Wharton points out that restoring trust is the key to recovery, and that trust cannot be restored until wrongdoers are held accountable:
According to David M. Sachs, a training and supervision analyst at the Psychoanalytic Center of Philadelphia, the crisis today is not one of confidence, but one of trust. “Abusive financial practices were unchecked by personal moral controls that prohibit individual criminal behavior, as in the case of [Bernard] Madoff, and by complex financial manipulations, as in the case of AIG.” The public, expecting to be protected from such abuse, has suffered a trauma of loss similar to that after 9/11. “Normal expectations of what is safe and dependable were abruptly shattered,” Sachs noted. “As is typical of post-traumatic states, planning for the future could not be based on old assumptions about what is safe and what is dangerous. A radical reversal of how to be gratified occurred.”
People now feel more gratified saving money than spending it, Sachs suggested. They have trouble trusting promises from the government because they feel the government has let them down.
He framed his argument with a fictional patient named Betty Q. Public, a librarian with two teenage children and a husband, John, who had recently lost his job. “She felt betrayed because she and her husband had invested conservatively and were double-crossed by dishonest, greedy businessmen, and now she distrusted the government that had failed to protect them from corporate dishonesty. Not only that, but she had little trust in things turning around soon enough to enable her and her husband to accomplish their previous goals.
“By no means a sophisticated economist, she knew … that some people had become fantastically wealthy by misusing other people’s money — hers included,” Sachs said. “In short, John and Betty had done everything right and were being punished, while the dishonest people were going unpunished.”
Helping an individual recover from a traumatic experience provides a useful analogy for understanding how to help the economy recover from its own traumatic experience, Sachs pointed out. The public will need to “hold the perpetrators of the economic disaster responsible and take what actions they can to prevent them from harming the economy again.” In addition, the public will have to see proof that government and business leaders can behave responsibly before they will trust them again, he argued.
Note that Sachs urges “hold[ing] the perpetrators of the economic disaster responsible.” In other words, just “looking forward” and promising to do things differently isn’t enough.
Shiller said the danger of foreclosuregate — the scandal in which it has come to light that the biggest banks have routinely mishandled homeownership documents, putting the legality of foreclosures and related sales in doubt — is a replay of the 1930s, when Americans lost faith that institutions such as business and government were dealing fairly.
Indeed, it is beyond dispute that bank fraud was one of the main causes of the Great Depression.
Economist James K. Galbraith wrote in the introduction to his father, John Kenneth Galbraith’s, definitive study of the Great Depression, The Great Crash, 1929:
The main relevance of The Great Crash, 1929 to the great crisis of 2008 is surely here. In both cases, the government knew what it should do. Both times, it declined to do it. In the summer of 1929 a few stern words from on high, a rise in the discount rate, a tough investigation into the pyramid schemes of the day, and the house of cards on Wall Street would have tumbled before its fall destroyed the whole economy.
In 2004, the FBI warned publicly of “an epidemic of mortgage fraud.” But the government did nothing, and less than nothing, delivering instead low interest rates, deregulation and clear signals that laws would not be enforced. The signals were not subtle: on one occasion the director of the Office of Thrift Supervision came to a conference with copies of the Federal Register and a chainsaw. There followed every manner of scheme to fleece the unsuspecting ….
This was fraud, perpetrated in the first instance by the government on the population, and by the rich on the poor.
The government that permits this to happen is complicit in a vast crime.
Galbraith also says:
There will have to be full-scale investigation and cleaning up of the residue of that, before you can have, I think, a return of confidence in the financial sector. And that’s a process which needs to get underway.
Galbraith recently said that “at the root of the crisis we find the largest financial swindle in world history”, where “counterfeit” mortgages were “laundered” by the banks.
As he has repeatedly noted, the economy will not recover until the perpetrators of the frauds which caused our current economic crisis are held accountable, so that trust can be restored. See this, this and this.
No wonder Galbraith has said economists should move into the background, and “criminologists to the forefront.”
The bottom line is that the government has it exactly backwards. By failing to prosecute criminal fraud, the government is destabilizing the economy … and ensuring future crashes.
- Eric Holder Insists Some BANKS ARE JUST TOO BIG TO PROSECUTE [VIDEO] (secretsofthefed.com)
- The Government Has It Bass-Ackwards: Failing To Prosecute Criminal Fraud by the Big Banks Is Killing – NOT Saving – the Economy (washingtonsblog.com)
- Failure to Prosecute Fraud Causes Economic Downturns (ritholtz.com)
- VIDEO – Eric Holder Questioned On Too Big To Jail (dailybail.com)
- Oh really, banks are ‘too big to jail’? Elizabeth Warren isn’t having it (tv.msnbc.com)
- Holder: Banks too big to prosecute (salon.com)
- Eric Holder Says Big Wall Street Banks Are Too Large And Systemically Important To Be Prosecuted Effectively (infiniteunknown.net)
- Eric Holder Concerned Major Banks Too Big to Prosecute (atlantablackstar.com)
- Dear Eric Holder: If banks are too big to prosecute, break ‘em up (americablog.com)
- Holder Confesses That Banks Are Too Big To Prosecute (crooksandliars.com)
On Wednesday, President Obama and Mitt Romney will face a number of carefully crafted questions on domestic policy at the University of Denver debate. As voters are overwhelmingly concerned about the economy this year, the bulk of the debate is likely to be spent on the candidates’ plans for taxes, unemployment, and deficit reduction. This focus on the economy, however, blinkers voters from issues that both Obama and Romney have so far ignored. Should debate moderator Jim Lehrer want to catch them off guard tomorrow, he could pose one of these questions:
Both candidates have laughed off questions about marijuana legalization, even as Colorado and Washington prepare to vote on state-level legalization on Election Day. Medical marijuana is already legal in 17 states and DC, and Massachusetts and Arkansas will vote on whether to join them in November. Several cities, including Denver, Chicago and New York have decriminalized petty possession of marijuana. However, the federal government has actively targeteddispensaries in compliance with state law, in spite of Attorney General Eric Holder’s 2009 promise to leave them alone. The war on drugs has swelled the US prison population to the largest in the world, while failing to reduce drug use. Moreover, its disproportionate impact on communities of color led the NAACP to endorse Colorado’s marijuana legalization initiative. The momentum behind legalization on the local level promises to have major implications for federal drug policy in coming years.
In September, the House voted to reauthorize George W. Bush’s Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Amendments Act (FISA). FISA grants the executive branch extensive spying powers on American citizens abroad and at home. The Obama administration unequivocally supports FISA renewal — and the Justice Department is making good use of its provisions. Records recently obtained by the ACLU show a huge spike in DOJ’s warrantless surveillance of telephone, email and Internet communications since 2010. A Romney administration would likely maintain or worsen this trend; in 2005, he called for monitoring and wire-tapping Masaschusetts mosques and foreign students.
After Minneapolis became the site of this year’s sixth mass shooting last Friday, Mayors Against Illegal Guns released an ad in which a survivor of the Aurora movie theater shooting implored Obama and Romney to release a plan to tackle gun violence, which is expected to kill 48,000 Americans in the next four years. After the Aurora shooting, both candidates declined to talk in specifics. Obama called for “common sense” gun controls but immediately backed away from introducing any new measures, while Romney claimed gun control would not have prevented the “unspeakable tragedy.” The gun rights industry, led by the National Rifle Association, has spent $17.4 million in lobbying since 2009 and millions more in campaign donations to ensure the quick death of any gun regulation bill introduced in Congress.
Poverty is a leading cause of America’s infant mortality rate, which is significantly higher than every other wealthy nation. 46 million people, including 16 million children, stayed below the poverty line from 2010 to 2011, while income inequality grew for the first time since 1993. Though Republicans and Democrats have both defined the middle class as households making up to $250,000 a year, lower middle class incomes actually hover around $20,000-$38,000 and are rapidly bottoming out. Meanwhile, a third of Americans identify themselves as lower class or lower middle class, up from 25 percent four years ago. Despite the urgency of this problem, a recent study found that campaign reporters almost studiously ignore the topic, dedicating less than .2 percent of their coverage to poverty. As the political influence of the poor is virtually nonexistent, it is no surprise that media and politicians alike have avoided discussing their plight.
81 percent of Americans think obesity is an “extremely serious” or “very serious” social problem — and they’re right. Most adults in all 50 states are now obese or overweight. First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign is one way the administration is tackling the problem. However, Mrs. Obama refocused the initiative to promote exercise over diet change after taking heat for her criticism of processed food producers. Big Food’s influence has grown to staggering proportions; Congress declared pizza a vegetable this year after intense lobbying by the industry, while the USDA was forced to apologize for an internal Meatless Monday initiative after the beef industry attacked them. The new president will contend with these industry forces immediately, as the Farm Bill is one of the first issues lawmakers will tackle after the election. Given Romney’s close relationship with the industry, he is likely to back the House bill, which guts nutrition assistance, provides generous subsidies for Big Agriculture crops, and eliminatesany meaningful regulation of genetically modified crops and pesticides.
- Cagle Post ” Rocky Mountain Low (mbcalyn.com)
- the Progress Report: did Romney mislead Americans only 12 Things last night? (mbcalyn.com)
- Video: First Presidential Debate: Partisan Gridlock (cbsnews.com)
- Video: The entire first 2012 presidential debate (cbsnews.com)
- Mitt Romney: Marijuana ‘For Recreational Use’ Is Bad, But I Also Oppose It For All Purposes (huffingtonpost.com)
- Tough Reviews for Lehrer as Moderator (abcnews.go.com)
- Video: First Presidential Debate: Taxes (cbsnews.com)
- Reviewing the debate on TV: Paging Jim Lehrer … (usatoday.com)
- ThinkProgress’ LiveBlog Of The First Presidential Debate (thinkprogress.org)
- Jim Lehrer On Debate Moderating: My Job Was To ‘Stay Out Of The Way’ (huffingtonpost.com)
Reid blasts GOP on Holder
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) slammed Republicans Thursday for voting to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress while a transportation and student-loan deal lags.
The partisan flare-up came while lawmakers wait for a legislative deal to extend transportation authorization, student loan subsidies and the national flood insurance program. A Senate Democratic aide said House Republicans have posted the bill online but have yet to file it.
“Instead of focusing on jobs, House Republicans are pursuing a political witch hunt against the Obama administration and Attorney General Eric Holder,” Reid said in a statement. “I support Attorney General Holder, who has done an outstanding job protecting our nation and prosecuting threats to our national security. The attorney general has cooperated with the House, but it’s clear that no amount of cooperation will ever be enough for Tea Party-driven House Republicans.”
Senate Democrats are irritated that House Republicans are waging partisan political exercises late in the week while lawmakers in both chambers wait on the transportation, student loan and flood insurance package.
“Democrats are focused on creating jobs, and we certainly will not waste time in the Senate with votes or hearings on this empty, partisan crusade that does absolutely nothing to help middle-class families struggling to make ends meet,” Reid said.
The legislative deal, which Senate and House negotiators reached late Wednesday, would create or save about 2.5 million jobs, according to a Senate aide.
Senate Republicans have been less aggressive in challenging Holder.
Sen. John Cornyn (Texas), chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, has called on Holder to resign, but other members of the Senate GOP leadership have stopped short of that step.
McConnell recently said he supported the House investigation of whether the Justice Department tried to cover up mistakes in the Fast and Furious gun-walking operation.
Reid said Thursday afternoon the transportation, student-loan and flood-insurance package would pass by the end of the week but did not know precisely when.
Reid said he did not yet have consent from all senators to bring the deal up for a vote Thursday evening or Friday morning.
Reid said the Senate is waiting on the Congressional Budget Office to score the cost of the deal and for the House to file it.
“The committee and the chairs and ranking members worked late last night. I talked to the CBO today. They didn’t get the information that they started scoring until 4 a.m.,” Reid said. “They’re doing their best and moving forward.
“The committees of jurisdiction, as I have indicated, worked through all these matters,” he added. “They have completed drafting a revised version of the conference report. So we expect this to be filed momentarily. It could have already been filed.”
- Holder contempt vote over Fast and Furious: Some Dems to vote with GOP, others plan walk out. (mbcalyn.com)
- Dana Milbank: GOP-style jobs program – The Washington Post (mbcalyn.com)
- Text: Senator Harry Reid Says House Republicans Are Pursuing ‘Witch Hunt’ Against Holder and Obama Admin (foxnewsinsider.com)
- Democrats Walk Out Over Holder Vote (thedailybeast.com)
- Senate Deal May Save Students…At Least for One More Year (loans.org)
- Joe Scarborough: ‘Political Timing’ Of Holder Contempt Vote Makes GOP Look ‘Petty And Partisan’ (mediaite.com)
- Black Lawmakers To Walk Out On Eric Holder Contempt Vote (huffingtonpost.com)
- Obama intensifies fight with Congress (thehill.com)
- Congressional Black Caucus Plans Walk Out on Holder Vote (commentarymagazine.com)
- Democrats Cream Republicans In Annual Congressional Baseball Game (huffingtonpost.com)
What follows the Holder contempt vote?
By Alan Silverleib
updated 8:40 AM EDT, Thu June 28, 2012
· The House will likely vote Thursday to hold Attorney General Holder in contempt
· Recent history indicates the contempt vote won’t have serious legal consequences
· Democrats say the contempt vote — tied to Operation Fast and Furious — is all about politics
· Republicans say the contempt vote is about proper legislative oversight
But beyond the political symbolism of such a vote — no attorney general has ever been held in contempt by Congress — what exactly does it mean? Where does the case go from here?
If modern history is any guide, it won’t go very far.
The GOP-controlled House is actually set to hold two votes: one for criminal contempt and another authorizing civil action.
The criminal contempt charge would refer the entire dispute to District of Columbia U.S. Attorney Ronald Machen, who would then decide whether to file criminal charges against Holder or others, based on the Justice Department’s refusal to hand over information sought by House Republicans.
If you sense a possible conflict of interest here, you’re not alone. Machen was appointed to his job by President Barack Obama. Holder’s his boss.
Most legal observers expect Machen to do nothing. They note that President George W. Bush’s Justice Department refused to take any action after a Democratic-controlled House voted in early 2008 to hold then-White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten and then-White House Counsel Harriet Miers in contempt for actions relating to the controversial dismissal of several U.S. prosecutors.
They also note Obama’s use of executive privilege to prevent the release of certain documents in the Fast and Furious case — a move which typically makes executive branch officials immune from criminal prosecution.
House Republicans are well aware of this recent history, which helps explain the separate measure authorizing a civil action. That resolution, according to a GOP spokesman, would allow the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform to file a lawsuit asking the courts to examine the Justice Department’s failure to produce certain subpoenaed documents, as well as the validity of the administration’s assertion of executive privilege.
The committee is led by GOP Rep. Darrell Issa of California, Holder’s chief congressional nemesis.
Specifically, Issa’s panel is seeking documents showing why the Justice Department decided to withdraw as inaccurate a February 2011 letter sent to Congress that denied any major flaws in Operation Fast and Furious.
Holder has repeatedly refused to turn over materials containing internal deliberations, and asked Obama last week to assert executive privilege over such documents.
The goal of the civil action — beyond continued political embarrassment to a president in the middle of a tough re-election campaign — would be to compel Justice Department officials and their political allies in the White House to hand over the documents in question.
But Cornell University law professor Josh Chafetz, a legislative expert and former federal clerk, says any judicial proceedings relating to the civil action will likely take years and outlast any political interest in the case.
“Just by going to court, the House guarantees it loses. Even if (the House) wins, it’s going to be years from now,” Chafetz told CNN. “This Congress will be out of office and Obama may be out of office. If they wind up going to court, it will actually be to the great detriment of the House’s oversight role.”
Chafetz noted that House Democrats also pursued the case against Miers and Bolten in court, finally reaching a compromise settlement after Bush left office in 2009. By that point, few people cared.
The Democrats “got some of the documents they wanted and some of the testimony they wanted,” he said. “But the timing was so unfortunate for the House, and that’s what’s happening this time.”
Stan Brand, a top Washington lawyer and former general counsel to the House under Speaker Tip O’Neill, predicted “two or two-plus years of protracted, arduous litigation.”
“We’ll hear about it again in 2014,” he told CNN. “I think it’s fine to go to court and try to vindicate your interest, but this isn’t going anywhere.”
Fast and Furious, a so-called “gun-walking” operation, allowed roughly 2,000 guns into Mexico with the goal of tracking them to Mexican drug cartels. Two guns found at the scene of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry’s fatal shooting were linked to the operation. Guns from the operation have also been linked to an unknown number of Mexican civilians’ deaths.
Republicans say the documents they seek are needed to get to the circumstances around Terry’s death. Democrats are crying foul, and insist the GOP probe is all about politics.
“House Republicans have made the strategic choice to try to score political points,” White House press secretary Jay Carney argued Wednesday. They are “focusing their time and attention on a law enforcement operation from 2009 that was botched and that everyone agrees was botched.”
The Republicans have “made that choice rather than focusing on jobs and the economy.”
For their part, House GOP leaders insist they are merely holding the executive branch accountable for its actions — a core constitutional function of Congress.
The Justice Department has “acknowledged that it made false claims to Congress about this reckless operation,” House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said last week. “The Obama administration, however, (has) stonewalled Congress’s legitimate oversight responsibilities. … The American people deserve the truth and the administration has an obligation to turn over the relevant documents right now.”
Political analysts are sharply divided over the merits of the GOP’s case and its potential political fallout.
“I think, for a lot of Americans who don’t understand the complexities and really don’t care about … this, I think it is one more illustration, as if we needed any more, that Washington is broken,” veteran political analyst David Gergen said earlier this month on CNN.
“If people conclude yet once again those guys really cannot run the country, it is very discouraging.”
- What follows the Holder contempt vote? (politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com)
- Congressional Black Caucus plans walk out of Holder contempt vote (politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com)
- House to proceed with contempt vote against Holder (politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com)
- House to vote Thursday on Holder contempt charge (thehimalayantimes.com)
- 20 Democrats Expected to Join GOP in Holder Contempt Vote (thegatewaypundit.com)
- ABC NEWS: Eric Holder Contempt Vote To Be Held Thursday. “Both the Washington Post and CNN report … (pjmedia.com)
- House Democrat breaks ranks to back Holder contempt as vote looms – Fox News (foxnews.com)
- Holder faces House contempt vote on gun probe (news.yahoo.com)
- Left shrieks over reports that up to 35 House Democrats may back Holder contempt vote (twitchy.com)
- Dozens of Dems may join GOP on contempt (upi.com)
GOP-style jobs program
It’s true. Technically, House Republicans are focused on jobs: Eric Holder’s and President Obama’s. They want to put both men out of work.
Tying up this administration is Job One for the opposition party, and never more so than this week. Republicans have been awaiting with giddy anticipation a Supreme Court decision Thursday that they expect will overturn Obamacare, the signal achievement of Obama’s presidency. “If the court does not strike down the entire law, the House will move to repeal what’s left of it,” Boehner vowed.
At the same time, Republicans decided to dedicate Thursday to a spectacle on the House floor: voting to hold Holder, the attorney general, in contempt of Congress for declining to hand over certain documents related to the Operation “Fast and Furious” guns program on the Mexican border.
Fox News Channel’s Chad Pergram asked Boehner (R-Ohio) whether he thinks “the American public is buying the narrative that you’re here to talk about jobs, when in the next 24 hours . . . everything emanating from the House floor is about contempt of Eric Holder?”
“We’re going to continue to focus on jobs,” Boehner repeated.
After that, the next jobs-related activity for House Republicans was to hold a meeting of the Rules Committee to determine procedures for Thursday’s vote on Holder.
Republicans rushed the contempt citation to the floor — the first time in history that the body has taken such action against a sitting attorney general — under “emergency” procedures. They did so even though Boehner had not yet met with Holder and even though the committee handling the investigation had not allowed a single witness whom Democrats wanted to testify publicly. Had they worked with such alacrity to create jobs, the economy would probably be booming.
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), chairman of the panel investigating Holder, told the Rules Committee that the attorney general has been “uncooperative at every step of the way” and that the Justice Department “lied” to Congress, and he suggested that Justice officials are “covering up a crime.”
Elijah Cummings (Md.), the top Democrat on Issa’s committee, said the inquiry is “one of the most highly politicized congressional investigations in decades.” The reason for the contempt vote, he said, “is plain and simple: politics.”
It was but an appetizer for Thursday’s food fight, but even this session, in a small, ornate hearing room at the Capitol, got nasty and personal, as lawmakers addressed one another by their first names. A trio of Republicans maintained that, as Rules Committee Chairman David Dreier (R-Calif.) put it, “this is not something that is desirable for any of us.” But Issa seemed to be enjoying himself as he mixed it up with the Democrats on the panel.
“It has all the trappings of a witch hunt,” charged Louise Slaughter (N.Y.), the rules panel’s ranking Democrat.
“Looks and smells like a witch hunt,” agreed Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.).
Issa retorted: “That’s been the Democratic talking point all along.”
At another moment, McGovern said Republicans “keep on moving the goal posts” in their requests of Holder.
“Not just moving the goal posts, moving the stadium,” Cummings added.
Responded Issa: “We keep moving the goal posts closer, but he can’t kick a two-yard field goal.”
Democratic complaints continued at great length: “You absolutely did not answer the question!” “Hold on, just a minute!” “A cynical maneuver.” “A disservice to the American people.” “A scripted sideshow.” “A dark, dark day.”
In response, Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) shared with the panel lessons she had learned during her morning Bible study, and Rep. Rob Woodall (R-Ga.) shouted about serving as “stewards of the United States Constitution.” Issa taunted the Obama administration: “You own that mistake.”
Democrats did get Issa to admit that “I’ve never said Eric Holder knew anything specific” about the Fast and Furious program and that his contempt action “isn’t even about the program. It’s about the failure to tell us the details of post-lying events.” He further acknowledged that he didn’t call a George W. Bush administration attorney general to testify because he was “narrowly focused” on Holder and that he didn’t call other Democratic witnesses to testify because he was concerned about grandstanding.
“That’s the new definition of irony,” McGovern said, pleading for “the speaker to approach this in a more rational way.”
Unlikely. “I have no role in it,” Boehner said when reporters asked about the Holder vote.
Remember? He’s focused on jobs.
- PostScript: Milbank and contemptuous commenters – PostPartisan – The Washington Post (mbcalyn.com)
- A NEW ANTI-OBAMA AD: “Wah Wahhh.” With a Peanuts theme. And even Dana Milbank is sounding the s… (pjmedia.com)
- Washington Post’s Dana Milbank Calls Obama’s Constant Campaigning ‘Sleazy’ (mediaite.com)
- Dana Milbank: Jamie Dimon Is an Expert on the Impact of the Debt on the Economy (businessinsider.com)
- WashPost’s Milbank Claims: ‘Media Would Love to Have an Obama Scandal to Cover’ (newsbusters.org)
- PostScript: Milbank and doubts about unicorns – PostPartisan – The Washington Post (mbcalyn.com)
- A Seersucker Is Born Every Minute (nymag.com)
- Why Eric Holder should being jail and the WaPo sucks balls (larrycorreia.wordpress.com)
- Milbank: Romney bows to intolerance (goerie.com)
- yes to the milbank (eyeofthestorm.blogs.com)
Eric Holder Held in Contempt by House
It is the first time Congress has taken such a dramatic move against a sitting Cabinet official.
US Attorney General Eric Holder chats with a guest as he arrives for the annual picnic for Members of Congress June 27, 2012 on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC
House Republicans on Thursday followed through with their plans to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress—but not before dozens of Democrats stormed out of the chamber in protest.
The final vote was 255-67, making Holder the first sitting Cabinet member to be held in contempt by Congress. In the end, 17 Democrats broke ranks with their party and sided with Republicans, who contend that Holder has failed to cooperate with their investigation into the botched “Fast and Furious” gunwalking operation.
The Democratic-walkout was led by members of the Congressional Black Caucus. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who was among those who boycotted the vote, called it an “abuse of power” while speaking on the House floor.
Pelosi and co. say that John Boehner and his fellow Republicans are going after Holder for the Justice Department’s involvement in another hot-button issue unpopular with the GOP: “The whole reason that they want him to resign is because he’s looking into voter suppression,” Pelosi said on Wednesday, referring to the Justice Department’s lawsuits against some states for allegedly violating voter rights law.
The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee have been locked in a standoff with Holder over which documents the administration will give to the panel for their investigation into the gunwalking scheme.
The Justice Department has repeatedly stressed that they’ve been responsive to Committee Chairman Darrell Issa’s requests for documents related to the operation, withholding only those documents pertaining to ongoing criminal investigations. The Committee voted to hold Holder in contempt hours after President Obama used executive privilege to override Issa’s subpoena for some Justice Department documents.
- Boehner charges ahead on contempt resolution for Holder (news.yahoo.com)
- Dems avoid, Republicans slam Pelosi theory on Holder contempt push (foxnews.com)
- Pelosi: Attacking Holder part of GOP voter suppression plan (rawstory.com)
- Pelosi: Holder contempt vote about voter suppression… (washingtonexaminer.com)
- Congressional Black Caucus plans walk out of Holder contempt vote (politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com)
- Left shrieks over reports that up to 35 House Democrats may back Holder contempt vote (twitchy.com)
- Dozens of Dems may join GOP on contempt (upi.com)
- Pelosi Calls GOP Move ‘Shameful’ (huffingtonpost.com)
- Democrats defect on AG Holder (thehill.com)
- House Democrat breaks ranks to back Holder contempt as vote looms – Fox News (foxnews.com)
Senators Question Employer Requests for Facebook Passwords
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published: March 25, 2012
Two Democratic senators are asking Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. to investigate whether employers asking for Facebook passwords during job interviews are violating federal law, their offices announced Sunday.
Troubled by reports of the practice, Senators Charles E. Schumer of New York and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut said they were calling on the Justice Department and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to begin investigations. The senators are sending letters to the heads of the agencies.
The Associated Press reported last week that some private and public agencies around the country were asking job seekers for their social media credentials. The practice has alarmed privacy advocates, but its legality remained murky.
On Friday, Facebook warned employers not to ask job applicants for their passwords, presumably so they could view applicant profiles on the site. The company threatened legal action against applications that violated its longstanding policy against sharing passwords.
A Facebook executive cautioned that if an employer discovered that a job applicant is a member of a protected group, the employer might be vulnerable to claims of discrimination if it did not hire that person.
Personal information such as gender, race, religion and age are often displayed on a Facebook profile — all details that are protected by federal employment law.
Not sharing passwords is a basic tenet of online conduct. Aside from the privacy concerns, Facebook considers the practice a security risk.
“In an age where more and more of our personal information — and our private social interactions — are online, it is vital that all individuals be allowed to determine for themselves what personal information they want to make public and protect personal information from their would-be employers. This is especially important during the job-seeking process, when all the power is on one side of the fence,” Mr. Schumer said in a statement.
Specifically, the senators want to know if the practice violates the Stored Communications Act or the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. Those two acts, respectively, prohibit intentional access to electronic information without authorization and intentional access to a computer without authorization to obtain information.
The senators also want to know whether two court cases relating to supervisors asking current employees for social media credentials could be applied to job applicants.
The senators said they were writing a bill to fill in any gaps not covered by current laws.
- Demanding Facebook passwords may be illegal, senators warn (technolog.msnbc.msn.com)
- Senators Ask Feds to Probe Requests for Facebook Passwords During Job Interviews (techland.time.com)
- Employers Asking for Facebook Passwords Breaking the Law (unaskedadvice.wordpress.com)
- Sen Schumer Calls On Justice Department To Launch Facebook Probe (newyork.cbslocal.com)
- Senators want ruling on whether Facebook password requests are illegal (arstechnica.com)
- Two US senators ask the Attorney General to investigate employers asking for Facebook logins (theverge.com)
- Senators chime in on employers’ Facebook snooping (go.theregister.com)
- US senators: Investigate employers asking for Facebook passwords (zdnet.com)
- Senators ask feds to probe requests for passwords (news.yahoo.com)
- DOJ to log into Facebook password controversy? (foxnews.com)