In an unprecedented move the US House of Representatives votes to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt for refusing to turn over documents relating to a botched gun-running sting.
The gun-running operation - codename "Fast and Furious", allowed roughly 2,000 guns into Mexico with the goal of tracking them to Mexican drug cartels.
Two guns found at the scene of US border patrol agent Brian Terry's fatal shooting in December 2010 were linked to the operation. Other guns from the operation have been linked to an unknown number of Mexican civilians' deaths.
The 255-67 vote on Thursday, which made Holder the first cabinet member ever held in contempt by either chamber of Congress, follows steady Republican criticism of the nation's top law enforcement officer. Mr Holder was accused by Republicans of failing to comply with a subpoena for material from the Fast and Furious operation.
Channel 4 News correspondent Carl Dinnen reports from Mexico: new policies to end the drugs war violence
While more than 100 Republican lawmakers called for Holder's resignation over his handling of Fast and Furious, terrorism and other matters, many Democrats didn't vote and walked off the House floor in protest. Mr Holder rejected the motion as politically motivated.
The contempt citation, which doesn't need Senate approval, now goes to the U.S. attorney in Washington to determine whether criminal prosecution is warranted.
As for the documents, President Barack Obama has declined to turn them over, exercising executive privilege - a principle that says the executive branch can't be required by Congress to disclose confidential communications because their release would harm the operations of the White House.
However, the Republican chairman of the House oversight committee, Darrell Issa, has admitted there is no evidence that the White House was involved in a possible cover-up to limit damage from the failed sting operation.
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