WASHINGTON -- The Justice Department has told House leaders that Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.’s decision to withhold certain documents about a flawed gun operation from Congress is not a crime and he will not be prosecuted for contempt of Congress.
Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole explained the decision, which was expected, in a letter to House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio). The letter was released publicly Friday, just over a week after President Obama invoked executive privilege to withhold the documents.
In May 1984, Theodore B. Olson, then assistant attorney general, wrote that U.S. attorneys are not required to refer congressional contempt charges to a grand jury or prosecute an executive branch official “who carries out the President’s instruction to invoke the President’s claim of executive privilege before a committee.”
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