Congressman Pete Olson

Representing the 22nd District of Texas

Why we want to impeach the attorney general

November 25, 2013
Why we want to impeach the attorney general
By Reps. Pete Olson (R-Texas) and Lynn Westmoreland (R-Ga.)

"I, Eric Holder, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God."

Those are the words Eric Holder spoke when he was sworn in as the 82nd Attorney General of the United States on February 3, 2009. Sadly, after he assumed his position as the nation's chief law enforcement officer, he oversaw a botched gun walking operation known as Fast and Furious that resulted in the murder of Brian Terry, a U.S. Border Patrol agent.

Searching for answers to this tragedy, congressional investigators requested thousands of relevant internal Department of Justice documents. They were never turned over and eventually excluded under executive privilege.  When faced with contempt charges from the House of Representatives, the White House and DOJ offered to turn over some of the documents in exchange for dropping the contempt measures.  Unfortunately,  Mr. Holder believes the truth can be negotiated. We strongly disagree.

As a result, in June of 2012, the House passed two separate Contempt of Congress resolutions against Mr. Holder. The first was a criminal contempt citation, which by law would be executed by the Justice Department that Mr. Holder still runs. The second was a civil contempt citation, which requires the White House to drop executive privilege and allow the DOJ to turn the subpoenaed documents over to Congress. This was the first time in American history that Congress imposed Contempt of Congress sanctions on a sitting cabinet member.

Since the contempt resolutions passed the House with the support of 17 Democrats, Mr. Holder has continued to disregard the Constitution by failing to enforce federal laws. As Attorney General, Mr. Holder failed to enforce the Defense of Marriage Act, the Controlled Substances Act, and the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986.  Mr. Holder has unilaterally determined that he can pick and choose which federal laws he wants to enforce. However, it is the Justice Department's duty to enforce all of the laws that Congress passes. It's that simple.  

When the IRS scandal surfaced earlier this year, Treasury Department Inspector General J. Russell George stated that his office found evidence of “willful unauthorized access” of tax records of political donors or candidates.  However, when it was referred to DOJ, they declined prosecution.  We may never know who ultimately authorized these unlawful actions. 

 And finally, while testifying under oath before the House Judiciary Committee on May 15, 2013, Mr. Holder stated that he was neither involved in, nor had heard of, a potential prosecution of a journalist. However, three days later, DOJ released documents that included a search warrant naming Fox News journalist James Rosen as a co-conspirator in an alleged violation of the Espionage Act. In a letter dated June 19, 2013 Mr. Holder confirmed to the House Judiciary Committee that he, indeed, approved of the 2009 search warrant on Mr. Rosen.  The Attorney General deliberately denied involvement in potential prosecution of the press, after approving the Rosen subpoena. That is perjury before Congress and rises to the level of impeachable high crimes.

We did not come to the decision to introduce articles of impeachment lightly. However, for nearly five years, Attorney General Holder has consistently and - we believe - willfully misled Congress and destroyed the credibility of the Justice Department in the eyes of the American people. Mr. Holder's behavior clearly falls under "high crimes and misdemeanors," offenses that the US Constitution explicitly defines as grounds for removal of a Senate-confirmed cabinet official through impeachment.

Mr. Holder has grossly undermined the authority and credibility of the Justice Department to the point that it can no longer be trusted by the American people to enforce the laws of the United States and uphold the US Constitution. As chief law enforcement officer for this country, he has failed to ensure that the laws are faithfully executed and continues to act in a manner unbefitting of a Cabinet official. The American people deserve answers and accountability. The time has come for the House to exercise our constitutional duty and impeach Attorney General Holder.

Olson has represented Texas' 22nd Congressional District since 2009. He sits on the Energy and Commerce Committee. Westmoreland has represented middle Georgia congressional districts since 2005. He sits on the Financial Services Committee and the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.