WASHINGTON WATCH: GOP Attacks AG Eric Holder, Readies Contempt Vote (VIDEO)

Roland Martin and the Washington Watch roundtable discuss the GOP attacking Attorney General Eric Holder, probe of the flawed Fast and Furious program and Republican attempts to attack President Obama through Eric Holder.

This week’s Washington Watch roundtable features : Keli Goff, contributing editor of loop21.com and author of “The GQ Candidate;” Pennsylvania senator Vincent Hughes, Democratic Senate Appropriations chair; Deborah Simmons, senior correspondent for “The Washington Times”; and Michael Fletcher, national economics correspondent for “The Washington Post.”

MR. MARTIN:  All right, folks.  Welcome back.

A lot going on this week in the nation’s capital and, of course, across the country.  I hate just focusing on D.C.  Here to sort it all out:  Keli Goff, contributing editor of loop21.com and author of “The GQ Candidate.”  We call that a shameless plug.

MS. KELI GOFF:  [Laughs.]

MR. MARTIN:  It’s now in paperback.


MR. MARTIN:  Pennsylvania senator Vincent Hughes, Democratic Senate Appropriations chair; Deborah Simmons, senior correspondent for “The Washington Times”; and Michael Fletcher, national economics correspondent for “The Washington Post.”

All right.  Big news this week:  all the hell that Attorney General Eric Holder is catching.  The House panel, led by crazy man from California –

MS. GOFF:  [Chuckles.]



MR. MARTIN:  — yeah, I went there.

MS. SIMMONS:  Wo-o-ow!

MR. MARTIN:  I went there.  I went there.  Eye-sah [phonetic] – Issa – whatever his name is.

MS. GOFF:  [Chuckles.]


MR. MARTIN:  They –

MS. GOFF:  “Crazy Man!”

MR. MARTIN:  — want to hold him –

MS. GOFF:  [Chuckles.]

MR. MARTIN:  — they – they voted to hold him in contempt – 23-17 vote.  Speaker John Boehner says they’re going to bring it to the House floor.  Republicans are saying this is all about trying to find answers when it came to the death of this border patrol agent in this Fast and Furious case, but I’m just curious.  If you’re trying to get to the bottom of it, how do you not interview the ATF agents in the Phoenix office, the head of the ATF, and you say, “We’ll ignore them.  We’ll focus just on the AG”?

MS. GOFF:  Well, I – I think it’s pretty common knowledge that Attorney General Holder has sort of been at the top of the GOP hit list – politically speaking, that is – ever since –


MS. GOFF:  — he had the audacity to say that our nation has been –

MR. MARTIN:  And the NRA’s hit list.

MS. GOFF:  — and the NRA – ha- — that our nation’s been cowards on the issue of race.  I think – [chuckles] – that that kind of set the tone for he’s a brother that’s got to go.  A- — and – and while there – there’s also the issue of him leading the charge on the voter suppression issue.

MR. FLETCHER:  That’s right.

MS. GOFF:  I – I actually think that the – the bigger, here, issue with Holder is that it’s a way to target the President on his w- — on – on the issue on which his we- — on which the Republicans are most nervous.  Not the economy, not immigration, not foreign policy.  It’s likeability.  The reason Pres. Obama has stayed in such a strong position despite the – the econo- — the state of the economy, is that 8 out of 10 Americans like him – even the ones who don’t think he’s great on economic —

MR. MARTIN:  Now, y- —

MS. GOFF:  — policy.  The way you can attack on that is by trying to show some level of corruption or lack of honesty in the Administration, and the RNC has said that, Roland.  They’ve gone on record saying, “You can’t attack him on character ‘’cause he’s too likeable.”  This is –

MR. MARTIN:  — you mentioned –

MS. GOFF:  — the way you change that.

MR. MARTIN:  — you mentioned voter suppression.  Here’s what – here’s what Nancy Pelosi – Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi had to say.


REP. NANCY PELOSI:  It is no coincidence that the Attorney General of the United States is the person responsible for making sure that voter suppression does not happen in our country.  These very same people who’re holding him in contempt are part of a nationwide scheme to suppress the vote.


MR. MARTIN:  Even Sen. John Cornyn of Texas – my home state – alluded to the whole issue of the AG and what he’s doing when it comes to voter suppression as one of the reasons why he should resign.

STATE SEN. VINCENT HUGHES:  It’s a traditional – Roland, it’s a traditional Republican tactic to distract the voters from the real issue at hand.  Eric Holder’s going after the voter suppression move.  He’s attacking it in any way that he – he can.  The Republicans know that they don’t have a real response to that, “So, let’s distract everybody from the real issues at hand.”

MR. MARTIN:  Deborah, you say –

SEN. HUGHES:  “Let’s say” –

MR. MARTIN:  — no?

SEN. HUGHES:  — “Le-” – “Le-” – “Let’s say that he’s” – “he’s the enemy,” when, in fact, he’s not the enemy.  [A] man of tremendous sense of integrity.  We need to protect him and protect that position.

MS. SIMMONS:  First of all, let’s dismiss what Nancy Pelosi said in this context – in this context only.  She’s implying that the Justice Department cannot walk and chew gum at the same time, that the – that Eric Holder cannot stand up as the head of the Justice Department and explain what went on in Fast and Furious on the one hand, and be able to deal with voter integrity in this presidential election in the – on the other hand.  And that’s absolutely false.  We know he can, and we know he is, as a matter of fact.

As for the – as for the contempt charge, even the a- — Agent Terry’s parents said, “It appears as though the White House and/or the Justice Department is hiding something, and we want to know what that” –

MR. MARTIN:  But here’s what –

MS. SIMMONS:  — whether we –

MR. MARTIN:  — but –

MS. SIMMONS:  — call it a –

MR. MARTIN:  — but – but –

MS. SIMMONS:  — “smoking gun” –

MR. MARTIN:  — but here’s what I’m trying to understand.

MS. SIMMONS:  — or a “scheme,” or –

MR. MARTIN:  Here’s what I’m trying –

MS. SIMMONS:  — i- — i- —

MR. MARTIN:  — to understand.

MS. SIMMONS:  — is irrelevant.

MR. MARTIN:  The documents that Issa wants –

MS. SIMMONS:  Um-hum?

MR. MARTIN:  — he wants documents after the death.  I would think you would want the information, what led to the death, as opposed to just what happened after the death.

MS. SIMMONS:  Don’t they want –

MR. MARTIN:  And s- —

MS. SIMMONS:  — both?  I mean –

MR. MARTIN:  — no.  No –

MS. SIMMONS:  — [crosstalk] –

MR. MARTIN:  — no, no!

MS. SIMMONS:  — no, wait a minute!

MR. MARTIN:  No, no.

MS. SIMMONS:  Wait a –

MR. MARTIN:  According –

MS. SIMMONS:  — wait a minute.

MR. MARTIN:  — no, no.

MS. SIMMONS:  They’ve already –

MR. MARTIN:  Deborah, Deborah, Deborah, Deborah, according to Congressman Elijah Cummings, who is the ranking Democrat – I talked to him this week on the “Tom Joyner Morning Show” – he said the specific documents they desire are not the documents dealing with the entire Fast and Furious.

MS. SIMMONS:  Right.

MR. MARTIN:  He said only –

MS. SIMMONS:  Which preceded –

MR. MARTIN:  — related to –

MS. SIMMONS:  — Obama.

MR. MARTIN:  — right, right.

MS. SIMMONS:  Right.

MR. MARTIN:  First of all –

MS. SIMMONS:  Right.

MR. MARTIN:  — ’cause the program –

MS. SIMMONS:  Right.

MR. MARTIN:  — was created under Pres. –

MS. SIMMONS:  Right.

MR. MARTIN:  — Bush.

MS. SIMMONS:  Right.

MR. MARTIN:  And then – but he said, so that’s not what they want.  They only want the documents – the communications that took place after the border agent’s death.  I’m still trying to understand that, if you want to get to the bottom of the whole issue, you want to examine it in its totality.  That’s not what they’re trying to do.

MR. FLETCHER:  No, no.

MS. SIMMONS:  Well –

MR. FLETCHER:  — It looks to me like they’re trying to create this sort of cloud of scandal around the President; and this is really, I think, about the reelection campaign more –

SEN. HUGHES:  Absolutely.

MR. FLETCHER:  — than anything.

SEN. HUGHES:  Absolutely.

MR. FLETCHER:  Now, I’ll say this.  The – the – you know, Holder was responsible for giving Congress a memo that kind of misled them, you know, about a year ago; and they had –

MS. SIMMONS:  “Kind of?”

MR. FLETCHER:  — to – that did

MS. SIMMONS:  [Chuckles.]

MR. FLETCHER:  — mislead them, and they apologized for that.  But that gave a toehold to Issa, and now I think he’s tr- —


MR. FLETCHER:  — you know, he’s sort of milking that for all it’s worth.

MS. GOFF:  [Crosstalk] –

MS. SIMMONS:  Right.

MR. MARTIN:  Now, here’s what’s –

MS. GOFF:  — [crosstalk] –

MR. MARTIN:  — also interesting in this in – in terms of you see how – what’s being framed, that now you have Republicans who are suggesting that Fast and Furious under Pres. Obama was a plot

MS. GOFF:  Right.

MR. MARTIN:  — by the Administration to somehow create a program –

MS. GOFF:  [Unintelligible.]

MR. MARTIN:  — that will lead to a – a much tougher gun program.  And they’re literally throwing it out by saying the documents they’re trying to hide are covering that up, and now you have the NRA saying, “We’re going to score the vote, and we will take into account how everyone votes in terms of who we elect.”

And I’m sitting there, going, “All of y’all are from Crazy Land if it’s all of a sudden this ‘master plot’ to have Fast and Furious to somehow lead to gun control.”

SEN. HUGHES:  This is the first time in the Obama Administration that they’ve gone to put in privilege to hold on – to hold on to – to documents.  The – and the latest of any administration in their first term over the last 20 years.  This is purely political.  They’re attacking the President through Holder; and, you know, the – the –

MS. SIMMONS:  But do –

SEN. HUGHES:  — American –

MS. SIMMONS:  — you agree –

SEN. HUGHES:  — the American people –

MS. SIMMONS:  — that –

MR. MARTIN:  Hold tight.

SEN. HUGHES:  — the Ame- — the American people are going to see through this, and it is purely a distraction.

MS. SIMMONS:  So, you see –

MR. MARTIN:  N- — no- — now I –

SEN. HUGHES:  Purely a distraction.

MR. MARTIN:  — now I –

MS. SIMMONS:  — that invoking pres- –

MR. MARTIN:  — need about a –

MS. SIMMONS:  — invoking executive –

MR. MARTIN:  — but now I need –

MS. SIMMONS:  — privilege –

MR. MARTIN:  — about a – hold up.  I need about a three-minute distraction to pay some bills, so hold tight.