This is what the drive-by media will not tell you about these two contempt charges.
No, it’s not because one was in a Republican administration and the other was in a Democrat administration.
There are actual legal differences in the cases, which shows that Democrats are engaging in purely partisan politics in their vote to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt because he won’t break the law and provide congress with a version of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report that includes unredacted grand jury information.
Over at National Review, Michael McConnell (a former federal appellate judge and Stanford law professor) explains the legal and constitutional differences between the documents former Attorney General Eric Holder refused to turn over as part of a congressional investigation into “Fast and Furious” and Barr refusing to break the law to unredact seven lines in the Mueller report.
First, background: The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), under the Obama administration, provided weapons to Mexican drug cartels in an effort to track illegal gun sales. Instead, the weapons came back into the U.S. and were used to kill Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry. As McConnell wrote after the news of the scandal broke, “Holder’s assistant attorney general sent a letter to Congress declaring that the Obama administration had no knowledge of the operation” — a letter Holder later admitted was false.
A congressional committee demanded Holder’s Department of Justice turn over documents “relating to actions the Department took to silence or retaliate against Fast and Furious whistleblowers,” McConnell noted. When Holder failed to comply with the request, Republicans issued a subpoena. The DOJ continued to withhold the information and said it would only provide the requested documents if the investigation was closed.” In response, Republicans held Holder in contempt while then-House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) defended Holder.
As for Barr, he is barred (pun intended) by law from disclosing the grand jury information. As McConnell wrote:
In the Fast & Furious matter, the Republicans engaged in 15 months of negotiations between the House Committee’s first subpoena on March 30, 2011, and its finding of contempt against Holder on June 19, 2012, repeatedly narrowing its requests in hopes of getting cooperation. The Democrats subpoenaed the unredacted Mueller report on April 19 and voted to hold Barr in contempt three weeks later, on May 8. The vote was entirely on party lines, with every Republican voting against. Even Chairman Nadler seems to recognize that Barr would need to get a court order before he could reveal the grand-jury material, but he held Barr in contempt anyway.
Further, McConnell wrote, the Obama administration made a sweeping claim of “privilege” and the “separation of powers” basically saying they weren’t constitutionally required to respond to congressional subpoenas.
“Contradiction? In 2012, when Holder was resisting a congressional subpoena, the separation of powers precluded compelling production of the subpoenaed documents. Today, resistance — even with a specific legal basis — is a ‘constitutional crisis,’” McConnell wrote.
Democrats didn’t get what they wanted in the Mueller report, and are now simply lashing out wherever they can. They have since turned their attention toward Barr, claiming he is engaging in a cover-up for… completely following the law.