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GOP prepares to file lawsuit against Holder

 

House Republicans will file a civil suit against Attorney General Eric Holder during the August recess, House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., has told NBC News.

House Republicans will file suit in an effort to compel Holder to release documents associated with the failed "Fast and Furious" gun-walking operation.

"We'll be filing a civil case during the break," Issa told NBC, "We will expect a day in court before a federal judge, which we have a 100 percent chance that the judge will hold that these documents should be delivered."

House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa has told NBC News that House Republicans will file a civil suit against Attorney General Eric Holder. NBC's Pete Williams reports.

During negotiations between House Republicans and Holder in June, the White House invoked executive privilege on the documents Issa had requested for his investigation. Issa says that a federal judge should find that executive privilege does not apply to the documents he is requesting.

"The idea that you would withhold based on some executive privilege the documents related to a cover up of a crime is absurd, but that's the claim that the attorney general is hiding behind," Issa said.

The House voted on June 28th, 255-67, to hold Holder in contempt of Congress for not turning over documents related to the Fast and Furious operation. During that vote, the vast majority of Democrats walked off the floor of the House in protest of a measure they saw as a political witch hunt.

Soon after the House found Holder in contempt of Congress, the Justice Department penned a letter to House Republicans saying it would not be pursuing the case, stating that "the attorney general's response to the subpoena issued by the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform does not constitute a crime." The DOJ cited the White House invoking executive privilege as a primary reason for not proceeding.

Larry Downing / REUTERS

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder during a meeting at the White House in Washington, July 26, 2012.

The DOJ's response has left Republicans with few options, according to Issa, who compared the current situation with congressional attempts to retrieve the Nixon tapes during their investigation into the Watergate scandal in the 1970s.

"We're seeking a remedy and the remedy is an order to compel," Issa said. "Nixon didn't respond to Congress, he responded to federal judges, ultimately the Supreme Court, ordering that he had no such privilege to cover up the tapes. And these are no different than the Nixon tapes, we're asking for documents related to a cover up of lying to Congress."