ABC News’ Jack Cloherty, Jeff Zeleny and John Parkinson report:
Attorney General Eric Holder had some choice words for his arch-rival in Congress, Rep. Darrell Issa, saying the seven-term Republican’s conduct during committee hearing questioning was “inappropriate” and “shameful.”
The display during an otherwise mostly tame Judiciary Committee hearing this afternoon exploring a range of controversies surrounding the Obama administration was exceptionally contentious and dramatic.
While it was not specifically over the IRS or Associated Press scandals in the news this week, it spoke to the overall level of contempt at this moment between Congress and the Obama administration.
Issa, R-Calif., the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, has gained notoriety as one of the administration’s most high-profile critics, particularly in regards to Holder, who Issa has continually aggravated with his investigation of the Fast and Furious gun-walking operation.
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The relationship took on a new level of disdain during a discussion over an investigation that Issa is conducting of Tom Perez, DOJ’s assistant attorney general, who was recently nominated for labor secretary.
After Issa played a DOJ recording of a voicemail that Perez left for a city official, he said it proved Perez was guilty of a quid pro quo by agreeing to award grant money to a second party if they agreed to drop a legal case conservatives wanted to reach the Supreme Court.
“Is it OK to trade a case you don’t want going to the Supreme Court for a dollar damage case?” Issa asked.
As Holder began to answer, Issa cut him off, saying he took the beginning of his response as a yes. Holder retorted that it was not a yes but, rather, he was attempting to answer Issa’s question.
Issa continued his questioning, frequently stepping on Holder’s answers. The attorney general attempted to press on, often ignoring Issa’s interruptions. After some back-and-forth, Issa, a 12-year veteran of the Judiciary Committee, repeated the charge and cut off Holder during his response.
“That’s what you typically do,” Holder said, putting his hand out in an apparent effort to silence Issa, who continued to talk. “No, I’m not going to stop talking now. … That is inappropriate and is too consistent with the way in which you conduct yourself as a member of Congress. It’s unacceptable, and it’s shameful.”
After the chairman stepped in to remind Holder that Issa had the right to ask questions that he deemed appropriate, Issa wrapped up with a final question, not showing any reaction to Holder’s comments.