U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder was back on Capitol Hill Tuesday in part to discuss the potential contempt charges threatened against him, which lawmakers say stem from the Justice Department’s lack of cooperation in the investigation of the failed federal gun-walking operation, Fast and Furious.
However, Holder now says he is willing to work with Republican lawmakers in order to avoid the charges – or as he called it, the “impending constitutional crisis.”
During the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) asked Holder for the DOJ’s (Department of Justice) stance on the recently leaked wiretap applications relating to Fast and Furious and whether his department was willing to provide additional documents. Surprisingly, the attorney general seemingly extended his hand to the GOP saying, he is prepared to make “compromises with regard to the documents that can be made available.”
“I want to make it very clear that I am offering – I myself – to sit down with the Speaker, the chairman, with you, whoever, to try and work our way through this in an attempt to avoid a constitutional crisis, and come up with ways, creative ways, in which to make this material available. But I’ve got to have a willing partner. I’ve extended my hand, and I’m waiting to hear back,” Holder said in response to a question posed by Grassley.
The response could mean that the continued pressure coming from Congressional investigators like Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) is working. Issa recently argued that the wiretap applications, which he claims were leaked from a group of “furious whistleblowers,” indicate that senior DOJ officials were aware of the tactics being used in Fast and Furious well before Holder and his department claim.
(Related: Issa: Fast and Furious Wiretap Information Shows Involvement of Senior DOJ Officials)
Just last week, after being asked by Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) to meet with him and other lawmakers, Holder refused to adequately answer the question.
To be fair, the attorney general only said he would “consider” providing Congressional investigators with more Fast and Furious documents so long as it doesn’t impact ongoing investigations. He also said it is rare when the DOJ releases sealed documents such as wiretap applications.
“But as I said, I am willing to consider that as a possibility to try to avoid what I think is an impending constitutional crisis,” Holder added.
Watch some of the interaction between Grassley and Holder here:
In a separate signal that the GOP pressure has been increasing, Holder wouldn’t commit to a second term if Obama wins reelection.
“What my future holds, frankly, I’m just not sure,” he said, before later adding, “Some have raised concerns about whether I was tough enough. I hope people will see … [that I] stuck by my guns … .”
In addition to Holder’s comments, Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) is also gaining attention for his bold statement during the hearing. In an exchange with Holder, Cornyn told the attorney general to his face that he should resign.
“You’ve violated the public trust in my view by failing to perform the duties of your office,” Cornyn said. “So, Mr. Attorney General it is with more sorrow than with regret and anger that I would say you leave me with no alternative but to join those who call on you to resign your office. Americans deserve an attorney general who will be honest with them.”