Attorney General Eric Holder likely to be held in contempt of Congress

House to vote Holder in contempt
Attorney General Eric holder speaks to reporters following his meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, June 19, 2012. Holder wants a House panel to drop plans to try to hold him in contempt of Congress, and the panel's chairman wants more Justice Department documents regarding Operation Fast and Furious, a flawed gun-smuggling probe in Arizona. Holder and Rep. Darrell Issa, a California Republican, met in an effort to resolve their dispute over the investigation of Fast and Furious by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that Issa chairs.
AP Photo/Susan Walsh

(CBS News) On Capitol Hill Thursday House lawmakers including some Democrats are expected to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress for his refusal to turn over some documents related to the Justice Department's "Fast and Furious" gun-running operation.

If the vote passes the question will become how it might be enforced. This is all about Congress still wanting tens of thousands of pages of documents on the scandal.

A primer on the "Fast and Furious" scandal
Complete coverage of "Fast and Furious" on

Most people think it's unlikely they will attempt the criminal route, which would mean Holder's own staff would have to agree to prosecute him if he doesn't hand over documents.

There's another option: Congress can ask a federal court to enforce its subpoena. That's happened before, a court agreed, and before it could go to appeal the two sides compromised and some documents were exchanged.

There are a few interesting developments surrounding the vote. First, at least a handful of Democrats are expected to vote with Republicans in favor of contempt. The National Rifle Association is putting on the pressure and some Democrats have a strong gun rights force in their constituency. Secondly, Democrats say the Congressional Black Caucus is going to lead a walkout during the vote and most Democrats are expected to join.

The Democrats who have publicly indicated they will vote with Republicans include: Utah's Rep. Jim Matheson, Georgia's Rep. John Barrow, West Virginia's Rep. Nick Rahall, and North Carolina's Rep. Mike McIntyre.

  • Sharyl Attkisson
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    Sharyl Attkisson is a CBS News investigative correspondent based in Washington.