A US House of Representatives committee has voted along party lines to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress.
The BBC reported Wednesday, that Holder failed to hand over papers relating to botched sting operation “Fast and Furious”.
The contempt charges come after President Obama used his executive privilege to withhold documents sought by the House Oversight Committee. However, Holder said claims he did not co-operate over Operation “Fast and Furious” were “untrue”.
The operation, at the center of the altercation saw US agents lose track of hundreds of illegal guns which were let into Mexico to trace arms dealers. US border agent Brian Terry was killed in December 2010 in a shootout with illegal immigrants with a weapon linked to operation “Fast and Furious”.
The Congressional investigation was opened after two guns retrieved at the scene were found to be among 2,000 weapons authorities were thought to be tracking.
Republican leaders in the House of Representatives have said they will schedule a full vote next week on the issue, reported the BBC.
Soon after the committee vote, House Speaker John Boehner tweeted an ultimatum, saying a full House vote would be held unless Holder co-operated with the inquiry.
Holder’s reaction was immediate, “Committee chairman Representative Darrell Issa has chosen to use his authority to take an extraordinary, unprecedented and entirely unnecessary action, intended to provoke an avoidable conflict between Congress and the Executive Branch,” he said.
“This divisive action does not help us fix the problems that led to this operation or previous ones and it does nothing to make any of our law enforcement agents safer,” he continued, calling it “an election-year tactic”.
The Department of Justice says it has denied access to the files because they contain information that could affect ongoing criminal investigation. Officials have already sent more than 7,000 documents to the Republican-led House Oversight Committee.