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Attorney General Holder’s Fast and Furious Troubles Are Example of Crisis Norm for the Office

Posted Jun 22, 2012 7:26 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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U.S. Attorney General
Eric Holder. Rena Schild
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Eric Holder isn’t the only attorney general who got caught up in controversy, finger-pointing or contempt threats.

A House committee has voted to charge Holder with contempt for refusing to turn over documents about Operation Fast and Furious, a flawed gun-running probe that allowed guns to end up in the hands of criminals. He could be the first attorney general cited for contempt when the House votes next week, but he’s not the only attorney general targeted by critics, the New York Times reports.

“In the increasingly polarized world of brass-knuckle Washington politics,” the Times says, “virtually every attorney general for the past generation has been swept up in a crisis that proved a major distraction and often a threat to their leadership.”

The Times gives several examples, including these:

• Democratic-led House committees threatened Michael Mukasey with contempt for refusing to hand over documents, including an interview with Vice President Dick Cheney about the leaked identity of a CIA operative.

• Alberto Gonzales resigned amid controversy over mass firings of federal prosecutors.

• A Republican-led House committee recommended a contempt charge for Janet Reno over her refusal to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Democratic fund-raising.

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