A majority of Americans approve of a recent vote by the House of Representatives to hold Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. in contempt — but a majority also believe the move was politically motivated, according to a new poll.
Notably, roughly four in 10 Americans have no opinion of the nation’s first African-American attorney general and three in 10 have never heard of him, the poll said.
The House voted June 28 to make Holder the first Cabinet secretary ever held in contempt of Congress. Fifty-three percent of people questioned said they approved of the vote, according to the poll released Monday by CNN and ORC International. One in three respondents said they disapproved of the vote, and 13 percent said they had no opinion of the vote.
Among partisans, nearly three quarters of Republicans — 73 percent — said they approved of the contempt vote; just 37 percent of Democrats were in favor.
The Obama administration has shared more than 7,000 documents with congressional investigators probing Operation “Fast and Furious,” the failed gun-running operations run by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives that ran out of the agency’s Phoenix division from 2009 to 2011. Holder has testified nine times before congressional committees to answer questions related to the probe.
But as House Republicans threatened to hold Holder in contempt for not sharing details of internal Justice Department deliberations about Fast and Furious, the White House began to argue that the investigation was becoming a politically-motivated exercise. In an interview with The Washington Post after the vote, Holder said Republicans have used him as a “proxy” to attack President Obama in an election year.
A majority of poll respondents appear to agree: 61 percent of respondents said they believe the vote was politically-motivated, while 34 percent said GOP lawmakers are pursuing real ethical concerns with the execution of Fast and Furious.
Nearly seven in 10 respondents said the Obama administration should share all information related to the investigation; 27 percent agreed with Obama’s decision to invoke executive privilege over some of the requested documents.
As for Holder, 25 percent of respondents have a favorable view of him, 31 percent think of him unfavorably. Thirteen percent of respondents said they had heard of Holder, but had no opinion of him, while 31 percent said they’d never heard of him.
The CNN/ORC poll was conducted June 28 to July 1 — meaning it began on the day of the contempt vote and potentially was fresh on the minds of voters. Pollsters questioned 1,517 adult Americans by telephone, and the survey has a sampling error of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points.
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