By a vote of 255-67 and 109 members not voting, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution declaring U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to be in contempt of Congress over his refusal to turn over documents related to the government's Mexican gun running sting Operation Fast and Furious. "Contempt of Congress" sounds bad, but is it?
Just to review, in Operation Fast and Furious we do know that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) purposely allowed over 2,000 supposedly traceable firearms to "walk" their way into the hands of Mexican drug cartels.
We also know that no Mexican drug lords were arrested as a result of Operation Fast and Furious, and that at least one of the guns was used in the murder of U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry.
What Congress wanted to know, and Holder refused to say, is who in the Obama administration knew what about Operation Fast and Furious and when they knew it.
So is it off to jail now for Attorney General Holder? Hardly. Under federal law, it is now up to the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia to decide whether or not criminal charges should be filed against Holder. And, oh by the way, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia works for none other than Attorney General Eric Holder.
Even should the heavens fall and the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia actually decides to file criminal charges against his boss, and a grand jury issues an indictment, and a jury finds him guilty, the maximum criminal penalties that could be assessed against Attorney General Holder are 12 months in jail and a $1,000 fine.
Also See: About the U.S. Attorneys
Aside from criminal charges, Holder could also face civil lawsuits filed by House Republicans in an attempt to force him to turn over more documents related to Operation Fast and Furious.
Also See: Obama's Mexican Border Initiative