News Column

Eric Holder Shrugs Off GOP Impeachment Effort

November 14, 2013

Joel Currier, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

eric holder
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder (official portrait)

Nov. 14--ST. LOUIS --U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder today dismissed reported demands by hard-line conservative House Republicans for his impeachment.

Holder, who was in St. Louis on Thursday to tout a five-year-old federal drug court program, labeled efforts by 11 House Republicans as "meaningless partisan" politics that include several "factually incorrect" allegations.

According to Politico, Texas Rep. Pete Olson and 10 other House Republicans -- including Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann and Florida Rep. Ted Yoho -- drafted four articles of impeachment against Holder.

In them, they allege Holder broke the law by refusing to comply with a congressional subpoena regarding the failed Fast and Furious program and that he failed to enforce several laws including the Defense of Marriage Act, the Controlled Substances Act and the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986.

Republicans also accuse of Holder of not prosecuting Internal Revenue workers regarding allegations the agency mishandled applications for nonprofit status by conservative political groups, and of misleading Congress about whether he knew of a search warrant issued for emails of Fox News reporter James Rosen.

Asked for his response to the allegations Thursday, Holder said the IRS investigation continues, that his office is "still in the process of working through the courts in Washington D.C. in an effort to reach an agreement with the House with regard to the provision of those documents."

Holder said he's not devoting much time to the Republican allegations.

"To the extent that there are concerns about policy differences that I might have with certain members of Congress, I'm not certain that rises to the level of impeachment," he said.

During his visit Thursday, Holder also said the Justice Department is spending $62 million in grants this year toward reentry, prison and parole programs. Holder urged Congress to reauthorize the Second Chance Act, which funds prisoner reentry policies and programs.

Four men from the St. Louis-area were recognized Thursday for completing a year-long drug court program called Project EARN funded in part by the Second Chance Act. The program offers offenders a framework for overcoming drug addictions and finding work in exchange for reduced prison sentences.

One of the graduates, Donnie Westrich, 42, of St. Ann, said the program helped him kick his meth habit that sent him to prison for more than 12 years. The program required he attend weekly drug court meetings, two drug and alcoholics anonymous sessions per week and take eight drug tests per month. It also required that he stay employed.

Westrich said he has been working as a fork lift mechanic for several months.

"I wish I would have had this program before I went to prison," he said. "Prison didn't help me stop using."


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Original headline: In St. Louis visit, Attorney General Eric Holder dismisses impeachment demands by House Republicans

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Source: (c)2013 the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

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