April 8th, 2014
06:47 PM ET
8 years 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."

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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. Tampa Tim

    Gomert, republican boy genius, was out of line. It is time for every republican to resign from office.

    April 8, 2014 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  2. Chris-E...al

    E. Holder should follow the laws and not bend them or make them up is this to much to ask from him is this not what he swore to do ? And for ALL the rest of them need term limits they all are way to cozy and dont want to work but will jerk that pay check right up in a hurry !

    April 8, 2014 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  3. John Q

    The GOP is the most worthless partisan group in generations
    Incompetence is thy name, worthless investigations are their game
    And putting Goehmert and Issa on the same committee? HILARIOUS

    April 8, 2014 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |

    Here in Texas Louie Gohmert is in a tie in a race with Jerry Jones as to who will be named as the official state rodent.

    April 8, 2014 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  5. sammy750

    I cannot wait when the Republicans lose and they have to face what they have put Holder and many others thru. Republicans are so incompetent and it shows at every committee meeting. The committee does NOT want to resolve concerns or issues. but make political statements.

    April 8, 2014 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  6. sammy750

    Rep. Louie Gohmert didn't even finished HS and he was elected by the Republicans. No wonder our law makers have failed.

    April 8, 2014 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  7. ChrisM

    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.

    Gohmert got his but handed to him and better be squeaky clean in his political dealings

    April 8, 2014 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  8. phantom235

    Holder is deserving of contempt.
    He is a lawless racist.

    April 8, 2014 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  9. Hank

    Our whole system of so called political "leaders" sure sounds like a pathetic mess! Big bunch of brats if you ask me. And HOlder is a radical twisted man whose perception of "justice" is way off the mark. Both he and Obama are pushing a very nasty agenda on America and its backfiring in too many ways. They are both so cocky and full of themselves it's sickening.

    April 8, 2014 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  10. Gurgyl

    Just do the same to Pat McRory for polluting rivers.

    April 8, 2014 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  11. smitty

    Just another Obumbles brown noser in over his head,

    April 8, 2014 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  12. JB Andrews

    Dump Holder ... NOW !!!

    April 8, 2014 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  13. just saying

    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."

    ahhhh, poooor baaaabbbyyyy.... maybe if he actually did his job and enforced the laws of this country instead of ignoring them or outright violating them, he'd get more respect? it is a real coin toss on who is more incompetent, holder or obama. it will be a great day for this nation and the rule of law when they both leave.

    April 8, 2014 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  14. DH

    They are just so mad these black men are leading this country. They are also mad that Obama and Holder are exposing the charade these "people" have played on the American people for many many many years.

    April 8, 2014 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
  15. Namelinda

    Eric Holder is right when says Congress has shown him little respect just as thery have shown little respect for the President. America wonders why other countries are showing little respect for the US. Look in the mirror and what do you see. Superiority complexes of Whites in America. It will be your downfall. Ask God!

    April 8, 2014 09:26 pm at 9:26 pm |
  16. rs

    Holder is having a battle of wits with unarmed opponents.

    April 8, 2014 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  17. Larry L

    Gohmert and Issa are the worst examples of the slimy politicians supported by the radical right-wing. They exist only to play political games, distort the truth, and pander to the crazies that now control the Republican Party.

    April 8, 2014 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  18. Willie Robertson

    We need a true Christian not a woman who is supposed to cook dinner and pick up kids from school. Didn't I tell ya'll that already?

    April 8, 2014 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm |
  19. nunya

    When are the Republicans actually going to focus on real issues and not whine about every single little itty bitty thing that the Obama Administration does....??? Focus on the people, NOT your own interest.. and you might win elections.. this is about people, not just the rich!

    April 8, 2014 10:32 pm at 10:32 pm |
  20. steve

    when those republicans open their mouths, they remove all doubt!

    April 8, 2014 10:54 pm at 10:54 pm |
  21. Lenny Pincus

    I would lance my ears if I had to listen to Gohmert regularly.

    April 8, 2014 11:08 pm at 11:08 pm |
  22. YoonYoungJo

    I just had asparagus and it was delicious. All joking aside I am curious what meant to say. Obviously it was a verbal misstep.

    April 8, 2014 11:29 pm at 11:29 pm |
  23. MR T

    I love the way Eric Holder tell those ignorant republicans to kiss off. He is quick to let them know how much their behavior is a disgrace to the country

    April 8, 2014 11:30 pm at 11:30 pm |
  24. J'Cincinnati'Redd

    The hate for this A.G.is clear to see. I must admit he has been the worst AG in years. but i respect the man point blank.

    April 8, 2014 11:46 pm at 11:46 pm |
  25. Lizzie

    AG holder is supposed to enforce ALL laws of the US not just the one he and the President like.

    April 8, 2014 11:52 pm at 11:52 pm |
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