Holder's contempt vote over Fast and Furious deepens partisan divide

(CBS News) A day after a House panel voted along party lines to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress over a government gunwalking program, Democrats fired back, defending Holder and calling the move political.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi told reporters that the actions against Holder are related to electoral politics and the Justice Department's effort to respond to allegations of voter suppression.

"I'm telling you, this is connected," Pelosi said.

Watch Pelosi's comments in the video to the left.

However, House Speaker John Boehner said the president's assertion of executive privilege over documents sought by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee smells of a cover-up.

"What is the Obama Administration hiding in fast and furious?" Boehner asked.

Republicans in Congress, led by chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Darrell Issa, R-Calif., have been investigation the botched gunwalking program that put guns in the hands of illicit gun purchasers as a way to track Mexican smuggling cartels. As a result of the program, hundreds of guns showed up in Mexico and a gun was found where U.S. border agent Brian Terry was killed.

At Thursday's White House press briefing, spokesman Jay Carney said the White House is "absolutely" not covering up anything, but that the executive privilege was granted to protect internal discussions.

"The issue here is about after- the-fact internal documents that have to do with the executive branch's ability to operate appropriately and independently in response to congressional investigations and media inquiries," Carney said.

Holder: Vote to hold me in contempt "unwarranted"
Fast and Furious wiretap information obtained by Congress

Carney said the Justice Department has handed over all 7600 documents pertaining directly to the Fast and Furious case.

But Republicans in the House Oversight Committee were not satisfied and voted Wednesday to hold Holder in contempt.

Watch Boehner's comments in the video to the left.

Speaker Boehner asserted that the full House of Representatives will move forward with contempt proceedings next week.

"This is about getting to the truth for the American people and the Terry family. It's not about personalities here," Boehner said.

  • Leigh Ann Caldwell On Twitter»

    Leigh Ann Caldwell is a political reporter for CBSNews.com.

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