April 8th, 2014
06:47 PM ET
7 months ago

Contempt and asparagus: Holder spars with Republicans

(CNN) - Contempt goes two ways between Attorney General Eric Holder and House Republicans.

Two years ago, House GOP members made Holder the first sitting Cabinet member to be sanctioned with Contempt of Congress, in a still ongoing dispute over documents related to a botched federal gun probe known as "Fast and Furious."

Since, Holder has shown less patience for the punches lawmakers tend to throw his way when he travels down Pennsylvania Avenue to provide public testimony, particularly in the rambunctious House.

At a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Tuesday, Holder and Rep. Louie Gohmert tangled over whether the nation's top law enforcement officer was being sufficiently responsive to lawmaker requests.

Gohmert quickly got under Holder's skin by raising the House contempt sanction and saying it appeared to not be "a big deal" to Holder.

"You don't want to go there, buddy," Holder replied sharply. "You don't want to go there, OK?"

Holder complained that the contempt vote was a political ploy to appease pro-gun rights groups, a charge he has made before.

Visibly angry, Holder pointed his finger at the seated lawmakers: "You should not assume that that is not a big deal to me. I think it was inappropriate. I think it was unjust. But never think that that was not a big deal to me."

It was the third hearing in five days for the attorney general, most of which have gone relatively smoothly.

A Senate hearing last Thursday, led by Democrats, was quick and painless. Friday's hearing before a House appropriations panel began with some Republicans giving Holder an "A+" for some of his work, but soon went off script as lawmakers accused the attorney general of "selective" enforcement of federal laws, including marijuana and gay marriage.

The relationship appears to have little chance of mending, particularly as Republicans have pushed for articles of impeachment and regularly remind Holder that they want him to resign.

At a May hearing in the House, Holder offered a glimpse of the problem at the root of the dysfunctional relationship, telling one lawmaker: "I don't think I've been always treated with respect," he said. "You may not like me, but I am the attorney general."

The remark came near the end of an hours-long hearing during which Holder and Rep. Darrell Issa, who helped lead the confrontation over "Fast and Furious" and the contempt vote, shouted at each other.

As Issa tried to get Holder to stop speaking, he refused, saying: "It is inappropriate and too consistent with the way in which you conduct yourself as a member of Congress. It's unacceptable, and it's shameful."

That was also the hearing at which another tussle between Gohmert and Holder produced a now famous head-scratching moment, in which the flustered Texas Republican warned Holder: "the attorney general will not cast aspersions on my asparagus."

No one in the room seemed to know what to make of Gohmert's verbal slip.

At the end of Tuesday's verbal fisticuffs, Holder mocked Gohmert: "Good luck with your asparagus!"


Filed under: Eric Holder • House Republicans • Louie Gohmert
soundoff (40 Responses)
  1. Logictox

    Holder is the most corrupt AG ever. His actions are those of a dictator and not an attorney general. It's like reading the law according to Eric................

    April 9, 2014 12:04 am at 12:04 am |
  2. just me

    Ironically, the asparagus remark was the the most intelligent thing Gohmert has said in his illustrious career.

    April 9, 2014 12:05 am at 12:05 am |
  3. labman57

    Loonie Gohmert to Holder: "I eat your asparagus. I eat it up!"

    April 9, 2014 12:49 am at 12:49 am |
  4. Gene

    You just don't mess around with a man's asparagus.

    April 9, 2014 12:52 am at 12:52 am |
  5. Humbrrto

    How is Holder still in office after found in contempt of Congress ?

    April 9, 2014 01:31 am at 1:31 am |
  6. listenhere

    Repubs make it sound like the Obama administration is the only one in history that has been selective in enforcement of federal laws.

    April 9, 2014 01:56 am at 1:56 am |
  7. Roz

    I am glad that Attorney General Holder stands his ground with the obstructionist republican bigots. They are disgusting minions of McCarthy – living in a debauched made up past.

    April 9, 2014 02:22 am at 2:22 am |
  8. Fed Up

    Good to see Holder standing strong. Dems have got to be more aggressive in defending what is right and show they're not gonna take that crapp lying down. Issa is a very small, very insecure man whose manhood is obviously thee to being seen as right.

    April 9, 2014 02:35 am at 2:35 am |
  9. croaton

    Hey Eric Holder, Americans are not cowards. You are.

    April 9, 2014 05:28 am at 5:28 am |
  10. WOW

    Maybe just maybe Holder should comply with Congressional demands and provide the documents they are asking for eh? My God...with everything that is going on with this Administration yesterday alone...Kerry is clearly cannot explain what the US foreign policy is, Holder was clearly mocking Congress, Lerner is going to be in contempt and equal pay story which the WH itself is violating!!! This is really getting stupid as to how little this Administration really is doing!

    April 9, 2014 06:05 am at 6:05 am |
  11. Jerry

    The bottom line, just like 0-Bama, this unpatriotic fool (Hold-her) has absolutely no respect for América's laws and lawmakers.

    He only enforces the laws that he and his protector (0-Bama) like and and does't hold corrupt government employees accountable.

    Oh, sorry! I stand corrected! Hold-her does hold corrupters accountable; only if they are from the opposing party.

    What lying and hypocrisy from 0-Bama on down. And, the worst part; some Américans as well as most, if not all the lame stream media continue to swallow the "hook, line and sinker" even if it gets stuck in their craw!

    God bless América!!!

    April 9, 2014 06:37 am at 6:37 am |
  12. Name jk. Sfl. THE KOCH BROTHERS GOP STOOGES PARTY NEEDS to be VOTED OUT IN NOVEMBER !!!!

    The house republicans are the GARBAGE and SEWAGE of America . I don't see how they keep predicting victory in the November elections when even GOP voters will probably REJECT them AGAIN . What accomplishments do they have to run on????? Oh yea, Benghazi bengazi bengazi, repeal Obama care, Obama care obamacare????? The GOP party of STUPID will LOSE BIG in November and the Koch clowns money won't save the most incompetent GOP congress EVER!!!!

    April 9, 2014 06:48 am at 6:48 am |
  13. hkiwin

    Holder is a nitwit worse AG in American history. The problem is that he is the new set of the bar to judge others against.

    April 9, 2014 07:26 am at 7:26 am |
  14. carlos

    Eric Holder is a partisan hack and a criminal that doesn't deserve to be an American citizen, let alone Attorney General. These guys are violating the Constitution on a regular basis and should be removed ASAP!

    April 9, 2014 07:32 am at 7:32 am |
  15. carlos

    What a piece of human garbage Holder is.

    April 9, 2014 07:34 am at 7:34 am |
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