The Department of Justice is telling Congress that it won't prosecute Attorney General Eric Holder for contempt of Congress over his decision to withhold information about the "Fast and Furious" gun-tracking operation.
In a letter to House Speaker John Boehner, the department says that it will not bring the congressional contempt citation against Holder to a federal grand jury and that it will take no other action to prosecute the attorney general.
Deputy Attorney General James Cole says the decision is in line with long-standing Justice Department practice across administrations of both political parties.
Yesterday, the full House approved a precedent-setting resolution to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in criminal contempt of Congress. It was the first time a sitting Cabinet member has been held in contempt.
The final vote was 255-67, with only two Republicans voting "no." 108 Democrats abstained from voting on what they have long argued is a politically motivated stunt. Many walked out of the Capitol in protest.
Republican lawmakers can still take Holder to court to enforce their demand for documents.
"Congress will probably file a lawsuit, in part hoping to find some judicial support but more because it's just another way to publicize the president's refusal to comply with their demands for documents," Todd Peterson, a law professor at George Washington University, told Reuters.
Republicans could also move to appoint a special prosecutor or even move to impeach.
The last time a Cabinet member was impeached was Secretary of War William Belknap in 1876 under President Ulysses S. Grant. Belknap was acquitted by the Senate, and even then, it was after he had resigned.