Holder, voted by the Republican-run House to be in contempt of Congress last week, said lawmakers used an investigation of the failed gun-tracking operation "Fast and Furious" as payback against the Justice Department for its policies on issues such as immigration, voting rights and gay marriage, The Washington Post reported Tuesday.
He said Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, engaged in drama while the Justice Department was focusing on public safety.
"I've been doing all of these things all the time Darrell Issa and his band have been nipping at my heels," Holder told the Post in his first interview after the vote. "They've been nipping, but I've been walking."
Holder said the debate on turning over documents related to "Fast and Furious," along with the National Rifle Association's attempts to make it an electoral issue by throwing its backing behind Issa's actions, made the situation worse.
"I've become a symbol of what they don't like about the positions this Justice Department has taken," he said. "I am also a proxy for the president in an election year. You have to be exceedingly naive to think that vote was about … documents."
The House voted Thursday to make Holder the first sitting attorney general in U.S. history to be held in contempt for withholding certain documents that lawmakers demanded as part of their investigation. The Justice Department provided the committee with 7,600 documents on Fast and Furious, but Republicans want more documents on the department's internal deliberations so they could determine who knew about the operation and when. They also questioned why President Obama invoked executive privilege to keep the documents secret.
The Fast and Furious operation, run by the Phoenix office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, allowed illegal gun buys in Arizona to track the guns to Mexican drug cartel leaders. About 1,700 guns vanished, many turning up later at crime scenes in Mexico. Two guns traced to the operation were found later at the scene where a U.S. Border Patrol agent was killed.