(Newsroom America) -- Attorney General Eric Holder has described a contempt vote against him in the House of Representatives as the "regrettable culmination of what became a misguided and politically motivated investigation during an election year."
The House of Representatives passed a motion with 255 for and 67 against on Thursday to hold Mr Holder in contempt of Congress in a document dispute over Operation Fast and Furious.
The operation was run by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, and involving allowing guns to "walk" across the U.S. border into Mexico. The plan was to track the guns to Mexican-based drug cartels, but the agency lost track of most of them.
Some of the guns involved in the operation later turned up at the murder site of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry.
Initially Mr Holder and the Justice Department said there was no such gun-walking operation but later withdrew that claim.
The House Government Reform and Oversight Committee is seeking documents Mr Holder has refused to turn over after months of negotiations, and the motion came about after President Obama claimed executive privilege over the documents last week.
"Today's vote is the regrettable culmination of what became a misguided -- and politically motivated -- investigation during an election year. By advancing it over the past year and a half, Congressman Issa and others have focused on politics over public safety," said Mr Holder in a statement following the vote.
He said instead of trying to correct the problems that led to a series of flawed law enforcement operations, and instead of helping find ways to better protect the brave law enforcement officers such as Agent Brian Terry "they have led us to this unnecessary and unwarranted outcome." Mr Holder said when concerns about Operation Fast and Furious first came to light he took action and ordered an independent investigation into what happened.
"We learned that the flawed tactics used in this operation began in the previous administration -- but I made sure that they ended under this one. I also made sure that agents and prosecutors around the country knew that such tactics must never be used again.
"I put in place new policies, new safeguards, and new leadership to make certain of this -- and took extraordinary steps to facilitate robust congressional oversight. Let me be very clear -- that was my response to Operation Fast and Furious. Any suggestion to the contrary simply ignores the facts," he said. Mr Holder said he had hoped that Congressional leaders would be good-faith partners in this work.
"Some have. Others, however, have devoted their time and attention to making reckless charges -- unsupported by fact -- and to advancing truly absurd conspiracy theories.
"Unfortunately, these same members of Congress were nowhere to be found when the Justice Department and others invited them to help look for real solutions to the terrible problem of violence on both sides of our Southwest Border. That's tragic, and it's irresponsible. The problem of drugs and weapons trafficking across this border is a real and significant public safety threat -- and it deserves the attention of every leader in Washington," he said.