WASHINGTON >> Both House Republican officials and Attorney General Eric Holder say they’re willing to negotiate an end to a potential constitutional confrontation in a dispute related to the botched “Fast and Furious” gun-tracking operation.
The conflict heated up Wednesday, when a House committee voted to hold the attorney general in contempt and President Barack Obama invoked executive privilege to avoid turning over some documents related to the operation.
However, House Republican leaders said they were willing to negotiate if the administration turned over more emails and memos. And Holder said Thursday that resolving the conflict through negotiation was still a possibility.
Holder, in Copenhagen, Denmark, for meetings with European Union officials, said the administration had given the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee a proposal to negotiate an end to the conflict.
“I think the possibility still exists that it can happen in that way,” Holder said. “The proposal that we have made is still there. The House, I think, the House leadership, has to consider now what they will do, so we’ll see how it works out.”
But he called the contempt vote “unwarranted, unnecessary and unprecedented.”
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., said the full House would vote next week on accepting the Oversight and Government Reform Committee’s contempt of Congress vote.
Committee officials who would conduct any negotiations in the coming days for Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., said they are looking for at least some additional documents on Fast and Furious — plus some “signs of good faith.”
The latter could include substantive responses to future committee requests for documents; reforming the approval process for wiretap applications; acknowledging mistakes in misleading Congress about Fast and Furious; taking whistle-blowers seriously; and producing a log of documents to be turned over, according to the officials, who spoke only on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to discuss the issue by name.
The administration would have to abandon the president’s assertion of executive privilege — a legal position that attempts to protect internal executive branch documents from disclosure. If the administration maintains that stance, it could lead to court fights that could take years to resolve.