During a speech at Al Sharpton’s 2014 National Action Network (NAN) Convention Wednesday, Attorney General Eric Holder went off script to vilify House lawmakers who recently brought up the still-pending contempt case against him.
Representative Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) suggested that “contempt is not a big deal to our attorney general” during a Judiciary hearing on Tuesday, enraging Holder.
“You don’t want to go there, buddy. You don’t want to go there, OK?” the Attorney General told Gohmert.
Later in the day, Representative Blake Farenthold, also a Texas Republican, refused to question Holder altogether because of the contempt charge.
“I’m committed to maintaining the Constitutional balance of power and the authority that this legislative branch has, and I just don’t think it’s appropriate that Mr. Holder be here,” he announced. “If an American citizen had not complied with one of the Justice Department’s subpoenas, they would be in jail and not sitting here in front of me, testifying.”
Throughout the hearing, Holder spoke in irritated tones and muttered at least one insult directed at Gohmert.
Speaking to the Sharpton crowd On Wednesday, the Attorney General charged that the lawmakers’ actions had nothing to do with the Justice Department he presides over stymieing a Congressional investigation into the fatally-flawed Fast and Furious gun program.
Here is an off-the-record portion of Holder’s speech which didn’t appear in the transcript released by the DOJ:
I’m pleased to note that the last five years have been defined by significant strides and by lasting reforms even in the face, even in the face, of unprecedented, unwarranted, ugly, and divisive adversity. If you don’t believe that, if you look at the way, forget about me, forget about me, if you look at the way the attorney general of the United States was treated yesterday by a House Committee, it had nothing to do with me, forget that, what attorney general has ever had to deal with that kind of treatment?
To be exceedingly fair, Holder didn’t actually use the words “racists,” “racism” or any other variations thereof. But considering his audience, it doesn’t take an imaginative stretch to understand what was implied: Gohmert, Farenthold— and presumably anyone else who asked him a tough question or went there by mentioning contempt— are clearly racists.
And if that’s not what Holder meant, efforts to elucidate his remarks to a different end provide even more worrisome possibilities than the U.S. Attorney General mistaking oversight mandated by the Constitutional balance of powers for outright racism. (That inference, by the way, isn’t difficult to make because it’s completely plausible, likely even, that Holder views the Constitution as a fundamentally racist document better scrapped and re-written than amended.)
If Holder wasn’t calling the House lawmakers racists without using the word, it means that “it had nothing to do with me, forget that” is the most important thing he said. Was it an admission that the withholding of the Fast and Furious documents that precipitated his contempt charge was ordered from higher up? That the AG is the fall guy? Or does it mean Holder really believes that he holds absolutely no responsibility for the agencies which he presides over?
The answer is probably in the unreleased documents. But, of course, efforts to have them released are, well, you know… racist.
What a powerful tool the race card has become.