Florida Sen. Marco Rubio calls on Attorney General Holder to resign (+video)
A rising Republican star and the lone GOP Hispanic in the US Senate, Marco Rubio says Congress has reached a 'point of no return' with the embattled attorney general.
Speaking at a Monitor-hosted breakfast, the freshman senator was responding to the Obama administrationâ€™s decision Wednesday to claim executive privilege in refusing to hand over Justice Department documents to a congressional committee investigating a failed anti-gun-trafficking operation.
â€śI think weâ€™ve about reached the point of no return on this issue,â€ť Senator Rubio said Thursday, after replying â€śyesâ€ť to a reporterâ€™s question on whether he believes Mr. Holder should step down. â€śI think theyâ€™ve been given multiple opportunities to answer very legitimate questions that the Congress has.â€ť
The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee voted along party lines Wednesday to find Holder in contempt over the refusal to turn over certain documents on Operation Fast and Furious, a move Democrats â€“ including Holder â€“ decried as politically motivated.
The claim of executive privilege by the Obama administration escalated the conflict with committee chairman Darrell Issa (R) of California, who launched an investigation into the Phoenix-based â€śgun-walkingâ€ť operation in the spring of 2011.
â€śWe know for a fact that something they told the Congress was not true,â€ť Rubio said. â€śAnd now I think itâ€™s very legitimate for the Congress to enquire as to why we were told something that wasnâ€™t true, and they refuse to provide materials to prove that.â€ť
Rubio wasnâ€™t specific on the issue of falsehoods. Though it is known that last year, a Justice Department official asserted in a letter to lawmakers that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms had not knowingly allowed illegally purchased guns to be trafficked into Mexico, then retracted the claim 10 months later. On Wednesday, the Justice Department retracted a statement that Holder had made to the Senate Judiciary Committee during a hearing last week, when he claimed to have been briefed about similar gunwalking tactics used in the Bush administration by then-Attorney General Michael Mukasey. That claim had been made "inadvertently," the Justice Department said, in a letter.
Rubio said he believed the House had provided Holder with adequate opportunities in which to answer questions without endangering the governmentâ€™s ability to operate.
â€śInvoking executive privilege at the 11thÂ hour yesterday was probably the last straw in that regard, and I think weâ€™re now at the point of no return,â€ť Rubio said. â€śI donâ€™t know how the attorney general can continue to exercise that office with any level of credibility after the decision that was made yesterday.â€ť
The claim of executive privilege was the first of President Obamaâ€™s tenure.