House Committee and Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa told BuzzFeed today that he expects 31 Democrats will join Congressional Republicans in finding Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress for failing to turn over documents relating to a botched gun-running investigation.
Issa, who has risen to national prominence as the point of the Republican spear in investigating alleged Obama administration wrongdoing, called for a committee vote on contempt next week in advance of a full House vote on Holder's conduct in the so-called "Fast and Furious" operation, in which a federal agent was allegedly killed with a gun the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms allowed to be trafficked.
"The real question is, we’re opening up the data that we have to all the members, so as they start reading specifics of what we know was known and was hidden from Congress, and what we’d like to know and been denied, how many of the Democrats will vote with us," Issa said after speaking at the Personal Democracy Forum in New York. "I expect we’ll have about 31 Democrats with us."
Issa said under normal circumstances he'd expect the vote to pressure Holder to turn over the documents, but that now he's hoping the president intercedes on Congress' behalf.
"After Thursday’s hearing with the Attorney General, no, I don’t expect it, but I would hope that the president would second-guess the man that he says he has full faith and confidence in, and tell him that it’s time to deliver reasonable documents," Issa said.
Issa compared the growing scandal to Iran Contra and Watergate, saying the cover-up is far worse than the "dumb" operation.
"This is like Iran Contra, like Watergate, and other embarrassments over the years," Issa said. "The major embarrassment is the delay in being honest and open about it. It’s not about something really dumb got done. Dumb things happen in government. But when the GSA did dumb things, once it became public we saw a pretty quick change, certainly Secret Service we saw an even quicker change."
Asked whether his committee would hold hearings to investigate White House leaks, Issa said that while he has jurisdiction to investigate, his committee currently has no plans to.
"We have a very busy schedule, and we will coordinate with the other committees [to investigate]," he said, noting that the House and Senate intelligence committees would likely take the lead.