Relations between Eric Holder and House Republicans have been testy for a while, but the attorney general made the case yesterday during a civil-rights speech that he's being treated worse than any of his predecessors. In the speech to Al Sharpton's National Action Network, Mediaite reports that Holder went off script with these lines:
- “The last five years have been defined by significant strides and by lasting reforms even in the face, even in the face of unprecedented, unwarranted, ugly and divisive adversity. If you don’t believe that, you look at the way—forget about me, forget about me. You look at the way the attorney general of the United States was treated yesterday by a House committee—has nothing to do with me, forget that. What attorney general has ever had to deal with that kind of treatment? What president has ever had to deal with that kind of treatment?”
Holder was apparently referring to a heated exchange he had with Republican Louie Gohmert of Texas as he testified before the House Judiciary Committee. Real Clear Politics has the transcript:
- Gohmert: “I realize that contempt is not a big deal to our attorney general. But it is important that we have proper oversight ..."
- Holder: “You don’t want to go there, buddy. You don’t want to go there, OK?”
- Gohmert: “I don’t want to go there? ... About the contempt?”
- Holder: "No. You should not assume that that is not a big deal to me. I think it was inappropriate. I think it was unjust. But never think that that was not a big deal to me. Don’t ever think that.”
The Washington Post
notes that Holder also muttered, "Good luck with your asparagus" to Gohmert, a reference to yet another nasty exchange between the two last year. Back then, an annoyed Gohmert apparently misspoke, asserting that "the attorney general will not cast aspersions on my asparagus.” Gohmert wasn't Holder's only critic at yesterday's hearing. Rep. Blake Farenthold said he would ask no questions because Holder should "be in jail." Gohmert, for his part, tells Fox News that he has no personal enmity toward Holder, reports Politico
. "It’s a matter of proper oversight and … I don’t think he’s doing his job."