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Sewell Walks Out of Congress in Protest of Holder Contempt Vote

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

Congresswoman Terri A. Sewell (D) from Selma joined fellow members of the Congressional Black Caucus  and Democratic Caucus in storming out of the U.S. House of Representatives Thursday in response to the House Resolution contempt votes against U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.  Afterwards Rep. Sewell released a written statement.

Rep. Sewell said, “Today’s contempt votes were yet another example of partisan politics and an attempt by House Republicans to discredit the Obama Administration. I could not, in good conscience, participate in such deception and disservice to the American people. To simply vote against the House Resolution does not adequately demonstrate the outrage and disdain that I feel about this unfair and woefully political vote.”

Rep. Sewell continued, “I am deeply troubled by this partisan attempt to distract the American people from the critical issues facing our nation.  With only 17 legislative days left before summer recess, Congress should be focused on legislation that promotes job creation, protects low interest student loans and invests in our country’s infrastructure.”

Congresswoman Sewell said, “The House Resolutions to hold the Attorney General in criminal and civil contempt reflect an abuse of power by House Republicans on the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. This unprecedented action by House Republicans disregards the fact that there is no evidence that AG Holder authorized, condoned, or knew about gunwalking. Nor has AG Holder lied to Congress or engaged in any cover-up.  On the contrary, the Attorney General has willingly complied with the Committee’s request and submitted over 8,000 documents, including all the documents related to the investigation. While I support a full and thorough investigation, this process has been tainted by partisan politics.  Given the economic challenges facing the country, it is my hope that Congress will get back to the work of the American people and stop with the political gamesmanship.”

On Friday the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that they had no plans to prosecute or indict Attorney General Holder (head of the U.S. Department of Justice).  Deputy Attorney General Jame Cole said in a letter to Speaker of the House John Boehner, “the longstanding position of the Department of Justice is that we will not prosecute an Executive Branch official under the contempt of Congress statute for withholding subpoenaed documents when pursuant to a Presidential assertion of executive privilege.”

If the DOJ continues to refuse the request of the House leadership, the House is left with three options to process 1) sue AG Holder civilly in federal court, 2) appoint a special prosecutor and staff to investigate the matter further, or 3) impeach AG Holder.   The last time that the House impeached a sitting member of the cabinet was in Secretary of War William Belknap in 1876.

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130 members of the United States Congress have called on Attorney General Holder to resign his position.  President Barack Obama continues to support the embattled Attorney General.  White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters Wednesday that the White House views the contempt vote, “For what it is if it takes place, and that is as political theater, an action taken by Congress that does not respond to the most urgent priorities of the American people, and is the kind of political gamesmanship that frustrates the American people so much about what happens in Washington.”

Alabama members of the U.S. House of Representatives who voted for the unprecedented Contempt of Congress vote included: Rep. Robert Aderholt (R) from Haleyville, Rep. Martha Roby (R) from Montgomery, Rep. Spencer Bachus (R) from Vestavia, Rep. Mo Brooks (R) from Huntsville, Rep. Jo Bonner (R) from Mobile, and Rep. Mike Rogers (R) from Anniston.  17 Democrats voted with the Republicans to hold the U.S. Attorney General in Contempt of Congress.

Holder is the only sitting U.S. Attorney General to ever be voted in Contempt of Congress.  Holder continues to maintain that neither he nor the White House had any knowledge that ATF agents were allowing over 2,000 guns to be bought in the U.S. and smuggled to Mexico by straw buyers for the violent Zetas Cartel.  However Holder continues to refuse to turn over thousands of documents subpoenaed by the Congress that should either prove or disprove that testimony.

Congresswoman Sewell represents Alabama’s Seventh Congressional District.

Brandon Moseley is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.

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