Rep. Schiff on Contempt Vote: Outrageous Abuse of the Contempt Power

Washington, DC – Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), a former prosecutor, spoke on the House floor in opposition to the contempt resolution against Attorney General Eric Holder. In an op-ed yesterday for Politico, Schiff also defending the Attorney General writing “to say this is a tragic misuse of Congress’s power is an understatement.” 

“I thank the gentleman for yielding and i rise in strong opposition to these contempt resolutions. I spent six years as an assistant U.S. attorney and I have great admiration and respect for the hardworking men and women of the Department. I have great respect for our Attorney General who I think has been a superb attorney general and is a man of integrity.

“I like most Americans would like to know about the facts of Fast and Furious, about the problem of guns crossing our border, the horrendous violence south of our border, but what we do today will shed no light on that. What we do today will not improve the situation in terms of gun violence that's claimed the lives of tens of thousands of -- tens of thousands of Mexican citizens and claimed the lives of Americans. What we are doing today is simply a partisan abuse of the contempt power.

“Thirteen percent of the American people think highly of Congress, and to date those thirteen percent are wondering why. What we do will cause no injury to the department, but it will cause great injury to this house. The justice department, after providing 8,000 documents and extensive testimony, is now being required to turn over privileged materials.

“And like all Administration before it, it has reluctantly used the executive privilege to respectfully refuse to provide materials it cannot provide. And so now here we are bringing a contempt motion against the Attorney General which our committee chairman acknowledges was not aware of Fast and Furious. They don't expect any documents to show you about Fast and Furious and yet we are going to hold this Cabinet in contempt?

“That is an outrageous abuse of the contempt power. What will happen when this Congress actually needs to use the contempt power for legitimate purpose? Will anyone still recognize it? U urge the Speaker to withdraw this motion as indeed Speaker Gingrich withdrew the motion in his stay and let the parties work this out. We both know, Democrats and Republicans, how this will end. It will end months from now. Let's end this partisan exercise now.”