The White House said there will be no movement on a criminal prosecution against Attorney General Eric Holder, an announcement that came one day after the House of Representatives voted to hold him with contempt.
Holder this week became the first member of a presidential cabinet to be held in contempt of Congress in American history after he withheld documents that Republican lawmakers requested as part of an investigation into a flawed gunrunning program called Operation Fast and Furious.
The vote could have led to criminal charges being filed in an effort to compel Holder to turn over the documents. However, the decision to file charges would have to be made by the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia, who reports to the attorney general.
“The prosecution will not take place in this circumstance,” said Jay Carney, the White House spokesman. He added that the president’s assertion of executive privilege over the related documents makes the matter moot.
Carney expressed his support of Holder, saying he will continue “his excellent work” as attorney general. Carney said the vote in the House amounted to “pure politics.”
In a letter sent to House Speaker John Boehner, Deputy Attorney General James Cole stated that the various entities that report to the Justice Department would not move forward with contempt prosecution.
“Across administrations of both political parties, the longstanding position of the Department of Justice has been and remains that we will not prosecute an Executive Branch official under the contempt of Congress statute for withholding subpoenaed documents pursuant to a presidential assertion of executive privilege,” the letter read.