Attorney General Eric Holder, in heated exchanges with the Republican delegation at a House Judiciary Committee hearing Wednesday afternoon, said it’s “unacceptable” and “shameful” for Rep. Darrell Issa to “misrepresent the facts.”
The fireworks began when Issa, R-Calif., chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, questioned Holder about the Justice Department’s release of emails involving secretary of labor nominee Thomas Perez, as there are questions about his use of a personal account to conduct government business, which would be a violation of the Federal Records Act.
“Our investigators have seen 34 of the 35 admitted emails that violate the Federal Records act. They have only seen the to and from. They have not seen the contents, and they have not seen the remainder of the 1,200 emails,” Issa told Holder, asking that he make the rest of the emails be made available to the House Judiciary Committee.
“It’s not something that I have personally been involved in, but I’ll look at the request and try to be as responsive as we can,” Holder replied, adding, “I’m sure there must have been a good reason why only the to and from parts were provided.”
Issa jumped in, surmising about that reason. “Yes, you didn’t want us to see the details,” he said.
As Issa continued to speak, Holder could be heard speaking as well.
“No, no,” he interrupted. When Issa did not stop, he continued, “No, I’m not going to stop talking now.”
Rep. Issa appealed to Chairman Bob Goodlatte to silence the attorney general, but Holder could still be heard criticizing Issa’s behavior.
“You mischaracterize something and claim its fact when it is not and it’s unacceptable and it’s they way you conduct yourself. It 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,” he said, before falling silent.
Later in the hearing, Holder criticized Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas. Holder told Gohmert that statements he was making about the FBI’s questioning of individuals linked to the Boston marathon bombing had no factual basis.
“You state as a matter of fact what the FBI did and did not do and unless somebody has done something inappropriate, you don’t have access to the FBI files. You don’t know what the FBI did. You don’t know what the FBI’s interaction was with the Russians. You don’t know what questions were put to the Russians, whether those questions were responded to. You simply do not know that. And you have characterized the FBI as being not thorough or taken exception to my characterization of them as being thorough. I know what the FBI did. You cannot know what I know,” he said.
That prompted red-faced ire from Gohmert, who jumped in to respond, but was told his time had expired.
“I cannot have a witness challenge my character and question my integrity without having a chance to respond to that,” the representative from Texas argued.
Gohmert was given several chances to make a point of personal privilege, but each time he strayed into territory Chairman Goodlatte said violated regular order by revisiting his questions to the attorney general. Gohmert finally gave in, clearly frustrated.