Rep. Darrell Issa threw down the gauntlet to President Obama in a letter to the president that accuses him of being involved in the Fast and Furious operation.
Issa took issue with Obama's assertion of executive privilege over a cache of documents at the Department of Justice - including a February 2011 letter later withdrawn by the agency - that Issa believes includes information on Holder's role in Fast and Furious.
"Either you or your most senior advisers were involved in managing Operation Fast and Furious and the fallout from it, including the false Feb. 4, 2011 letter provided by the attorney general to the committee," Issa wrote to Obama. "Or, you are asserting a presidential power that you know to be unjustified solely for the purpose of further obstructing a congressional investigation."
White House spokesman Eric Schultz defended Obama's assertion of executive privilege, saying that the move is legal and has long been supported by courts even if the president is not directly involved with the documents in question.
"Our position is consistent with executive-branch legal precedent for the past three decades spanning administrations of both parties, and dating back to President Reagan's Department of Justice," said Schultz in a statement.
"The courts have routinely considered deliberative process privilege claims and affirmed the right of the executive branch to invoke the privilege even when White House documents are not involved."
Issa on Sunday acknowledged in an interview with Fox host Chris Wallace that he has no evidence that would suggest a White House cover-up of the gun-tracking operation.
The House has scheduled a vote on the contempt charge for Thursday, the same day the Supreme Court is scheduled to deliver its decision on Obama's healthcare law. That virtually ensures the Holder vote will get less media attention, something that might be fine with many Republicans who want to focus the political debate on the economy. Conservatives within the GOP have been pressing for the action against Holder.
You can bet he has their attention now.
The February 4 letter is the key, of course. It contains the statement by DoJ that they did everything in their power to prevent gunwalking, despite that being demonstrably untrue. When Justice withdrew the letter later with little explanation, Issa began to concentrate on the coverup of DoJ -- and possibly White House -- knowledge of the affair.
It's always the cover up that gets them.