WASHINGTON (WHAS11) -- A major confrontation on Capitol Hill Wednesday over releasing documents from Operation Fast and Furious.
The botched gun smuggling sting was a factor in the murder of a US Border patrol agent.
President Obama invoked executive privilege to keep the documents from being released, but that didn't stop the House oversight committee from voting to cite Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt.
No Attorney General has ever been cited for contempt before.
Operation Fast and Furious was supposed to help the US government track where weapons were going in Mexico. Instead it put weapons in criminal hands that resulted in hundreds of deaths.
One weapon was found at the murder scene of US border patrol agent, Brian Terry.
"Nearly 2,000 weapons, purposely, purposely, given to drug cartels. We have hundreds of dead people in Mexico. We have a dead United States border patrol agent and we have a government that's withholding information so that we not only can get to the bottom of it but so we can fix it," Rep. Jason Chaffetz/(R) UT said.
So far the Department of Justice has released 7,600 documents, but not the ones in relation to how the Department learned about problems with Fast and Furious.
"We will make as I said somebody available to brief on them and we will answer question to them," Attorney General Eric Holder said.
That wasn't enough for the Republican chaired oversight committee. The committee voted to cite Holder in contempt of court.
Democrats say the information is too sensitive to release and it would put lives in danger.
"This endeavor is something that again is only to enhance partisanship in the country," Rep. John Yarmuth/(D) KY said.
"I hope American people will see this as witch hunt," Rep. Danny Davis/(D) IL said.
But Republicans stand by their decision.
"That does not mitigate this Attorney General's responsibility to comply with a subpoena from Congress," Rep. Trey Gowdy/(R) SC said.
The issue will go to the full house and could got to federal court, but the two sides will probably reach some sort of agreement on the documents before it gets that far.