In 2012, Senator Marco Rubio (R-Florida) thought any Attorney General — Republican or Democrat — held in contempt of Congress should resign.
A video emerged yesterday of Sen. Rubio commenting on the so-called “Fast and Furious” scandal in 2012, when the federal sting operation allowed illegal firearm sales to take place in hopes that the purchases would trace back to Mexican drug cartels. The footage was initially unearthed by the group Republicans for the Rule of Law, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
President Obama claimed executive privilege when the Republican-controlled Congress requested documents relating to the scandal, prompting then-Attorney General Eric Holder to refuse to turn those documents over to Congress. The House Oversight Committee then voted along party lines to hold Holder in contempt for his refusal to comply with their request.
“I think it is outrageous that any Attorney General — Republican or Democrat — refused to comply with Congress’s constitutional right to hold them accountable and hold the Justice Department accountable,” Rubio said in the 2012 video. “I would say that if this was a Republican just like I do now because it’s a Democrat.”
— Republicans for the Rule of Law (@ForTheRuleOfLaw) May 8, 2019
The recently unearthed remarks from Sen. Rubio come just after the House Judiciary Committee voted to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt for his refusal to provide the committee with the full unredacted Mueller report into Russian election interference and the possibility of obstruction of justice from the Trump administration.
Barr argued that providing the report would be a violation of the law, as parts of the redacted report include sensitive information from the ongoing grand jury investigation. However, as Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Georgia) noted Wednesday during the Judiciary Committee’s contempt vote, rule 6(e) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure allow exceptions for grand jury investigations.
“There’s no reason for the American people to be misled about that,” Johnson said. “Previous attorney generals in his situation have gone to Congress with the House of Representatives and obtained grand jury materials when necessary.”
The contempt vote will now go before the full House of Representatives after passing through the Judiciary Committee. If Barr is found in contempt by the full Congress, Congress could then proceed with either suing Barr in district court or referring a criminal citation to the US Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia.
Tom Cahill is a contributor for Grit Post who covers political and economic news. He lives in Bend, Oregon. Send him an email at tom DOT v DOT cahill AT gmail DOT com.