POSTED: Tuesday, June 19, 2012 - 6:00pm
UPDATED: Tuesday, June 19, 2012 - 6:14pm
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder will meet with the House Oversight Committee chairman Tuesday afternoon about turning over documents that might postpone a contempt vote against the nation's top prosecutor.
Holder and Rep. Darrell Issa, R-California, will meet to discuss Issa's demand for more documents relating to Operation Fast and Furious, a botched federal firearms sting operation that allowed weapons to reach Mexican drug gangs.
Issa's panel has scheduled a vote for Wednesday on a contempt measure against Holder. However, Issa has offered to postpone the contempt vote if Holder followed through on an earlier pledge to turn over some of the documents sought by the oversight panel.
A committee statement issued before Tuesday's meeting said it was a chance for Holder to meet the panel's demands for additional documents, which would allow for a postponement.
"Currently, (the Department of Justice) has not delivered or shown the committee any of the documents it has said it is prepared to produce," the statement continued. "It is not clear if they will actually produce these documents to the committee before the Wednesday vote to facilitate a postponement."
Holder said Monday that he wasn't willing to deliver the records before a meeting and wanted key Democrats to take part.
In a letter back to Holder later Monday, Issa said he won't be able to decide whether to put off the scheduled vote on the contempt motion without seeing the documents beforehand. Issa also complained that the Justice Department has failed to turn over a record of what documents it is refusing to hand over and why.
"As the committee lacks this information, I will not be in a position tomorrow to negotiate over whether certain actions -- short of full compliance -- are sufficient to warrant more than a delay of contempt proceedings," he wrote.
Issa has accused the attorney general of stonewalling an investigation into Fast and Furious and how the Justice Department provided Congress with erroneous information about it. The department says it already has handed over more than 7,000 pages of records to House investigators, and that the remaining material Issa wants could jeopardize criminal prosecutions.
The ranking Democrat on the House committee, Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, said Monday that Issa's latest offer amounted to "moving the goal posts." He said Holder is trying to accommodate the requests from Issa "and obey the law, because he wanted documents that were sealed."
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives launched Operation Fast and Furious out of Arizona to track weapons purchases by Mexican drug cartels. However, it lost track of more than 1,000 firearms that the agency had allowed straw buyers to carry across the border, and two of the lost weapons turned up at the scene of the killing of a U.S. Border Patrol agent.
In the back-and-forth with Holder over Tuesday's meeting, Issa made clear he wanted the documents ahead of time and also wanted Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa -- the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee and a leading Holder critic -- to take part.
Holder agreed to a meeting but told Issa he wanted to include Cummings and the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Vermont Democrat Pat Leahy.
His letter Monday said the purpose of the meeting would be to reach an agreement that would avoid a "constitutional confrontation" -- a reference to the committee's planned vote on the contempt measure.
Issa and Grassley have accused Holder and other top Justice Department officials of withholding requested documents and misleading them about when they first learned of the program.
Holder fended off a call for his resignation last week at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, where Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, accused him of misleading Congress over the Fast and Furious program and other misdeeds.
Holder called Cornyn's complaint "almost breathtaking in its inaccuracy," adding, "I don't have any intention of resigning."