Nadler once called Holder contempt vote ‘shameful,’ now leads charge against Barr
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., led the charge Wednesday to hold Attorney General Bill Barr in contempt of Congress for not handing over documents related to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe — declaring the move necessary as the country enters a “constitutional crisis.”
But Nadler took a very different stance on contempt back in 2012, when House Republicans took the same step against then-AG Eric Holder for refusing to hand over documents related to the Fast and Furious gun-running scandal, where DOJ officials tracked thousands of guns smuggled across the border but did nothing to stop them.
“Just joined the #walkout of the House chamber to protest the shameful, politically-motivated GOP vote holding AG [Eric] Holder in contempt,” Nadler tweeted in 2012.
Just joined the #walkout of the House chamber to protest the shameful, politically-motivated GOP vote holding AG Holder in contempt
— (((Rep. Nadler))) (@RepJerryNadler) June 28, 2012
He joined more than 100 Democrats in walking out over the vote to hold the Obama-era DOJ leader in contempt.
Then-House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., argued House Republicans were more politically motivated in attacking Holder than driven to get to the bottom of the failed operation.
“What is happening here is shameful,” said Pelosi.
After the contempt vote on Wednesday, conservatives pointed to the vintage Nadler tweet as an example of a double standard.
“Ahhh the irony. Political hacks gonna hack,” Donald Trump Jr. tweeted.
Ahhh the irony. Political hacks gonna hack. https://t.co/T8xFiaivU5
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) May 8, 2019
“Nadler now says the White House ‘stonewalling’ Congress represents an attack on ‘the essence of our democracy’ – as though stonewalling were some new phenomena,” former Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, said in an op-ed. “Where was Nadler’s righteous indignation when the stonewalling came from a Democratic White House?”
Nadler’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Nadler was also accused of hypocrisy last month by GOP critics for his subpoena of the unredacted Mueller report, with critics pointing to video from the Clinton days showing him urging caution regarding the release of details from then-Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr’s report.
“But now a different political landscape compels the chairman to adopt new standards of fairness, ignore existing law and demand the material he once considered ‘unfair to release,’” Committee Ranking Member Doug Collins, R-Ga., said.
Nadler maintained he has been consistent in both cases — calling in 1998 and the present day for the committee to first review the documents, acknowledging in both cases concerns about the release of grand jury materials to the general public.
Democrats aren’t the only ones switching sides on contempt. Republicans who voted for Holder to be held in contempt in 2012 dismissed the vote this week as the Democrats’ latest effort to drag out the Russia controversy in the wake of the Mueller report.
But Republicans argue that the fight over the Fast and the Furious scandal was more substantive.
The fight with Barr is a political stunt.
Real oversight was when House sought documents about #FastandFurious an Eric Holder program that allowed guns to reach drug cartels in Mexico.
Holder & Obama refused to give Congress information about it. https://t.co/3a5triWw36
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) May 9, 2019
“The fight with Barr is a political stunt,” Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said this week. “Real oversight was when House sought documents about #FastandFurious an Eric Holder program that allowed guns to reach drug cartels in Mexico.”
Chaffetz said the Congress should hold fast to its subpoena power, “but they need a winning case (Barr wins this case easily), and a principled backbone of consistency.”
“America should not mistake this charade by the Democrats for a principled stand,” he wrote. “Not when the principles shift with the political fortunes of the Democratic Party.”
The fight over documents in the 2012 controversy seemed to resolve only this week when a settlement was reached between the House and DOJ. According to Politico, both sides said they maintained their disagreements but were dropping their appeals and the underlying lawsuit.