Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn called for U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to resign Tuesday during a contentious Senate Judiciary Committee hearing where GOP lawmakers lambasted the embattled cabinet official, and Obama administration allies tried to parry their blows.
"Mr. Attorney General it is more with sorrow and regret than anger that I would say that you leave me no alternative than to join those that call upon you to resign your office," Cornyn said. "Americans deserve an Attorney General who will be honest with them."
"You have proven time and time again, sadly that you are unwilling to do so," he added.
Holder calmly responded that he has no intentions of resigning his office, adding that all signals from the White House indicate President Barack Obama is pleased with the job he is doing. "They deserve an Attorney General who puts justice before politics," said Cornyn, who's the point man for getting more Republicans elected to the Senate. "It is my sincere hope that President Obama will replace you with someone who is up to that challenge."
Cornyn argued that Holder intentionally misled Congress on investigations into the Fast and Furious gun-running operation multiple times. But the breaking point for many Republican members on the committee was Attorney General's announcement Friday that he would appoint two U.S. attorneys to lead individual criminal investigations into a series of national security leaks instead of appointing outside counsel for the investigations.
Many Republicans in Congress accused Holder of blatantly disregarding a potential conflict of interest considering that members of the Department of Justice could potentially be responsible for the leaks.
"Mr. Attorney General. I am afraid we have come to an impasse," Cornyn said. "Leaking classified information represents a major threat to our national security and your office faces a clear conflict of interest and you won't appoint a special counsel."
Freshman Connecticut Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal leaped to the AG's defense, arguing the attacks against Holder had more to do with politics than substance.
"I disagree strongly with the suggestions that [a leak investigation] is even a reason for you to even consider resignation," he said, "If we were here six months from now the tone and tenor and even the substance of this inquiry would be somewhat different." [See a collection of political cartoons on WikiLeaks.]
Arizona Sen. John McCain introduced a resolution Tuesday that would require Holder to appoint outside counsel to investigate the series of leaks.
"At this point, I would oppose this legislation," says Democratic California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who spoke out in support of Holder's appointment of two U.S. attorneys to handle the leak investigation."To have a fight over how we do this now will set back any leak investigation."