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Doug Collins: I miss Eric Holder

WASHINGTON -- Things got pretty testy between Rep. Doug Collins and Attorney General Loretta Lynch at a hearing today on Capitol Hill. So testy, in fact, that the Gainesville Republican at one point proclaimed that he missed Eric Holder, Lynch's predecessor who was long maligned by the GOP.

Proceedings were tense as Republican lawmakers on the House Judiciary Committee grilled the country's top law enforcement official for hours about the Justice Department's decision not to prosecute Hillary Clinton for using a private email server when she was secretary of state. Lynch wasn't giving them much in terms of answers, as USA Today reports.

The exchange between Collins and Lynch occurred after the former asked about music licensing, his pet issue, and the Justice Department's review of the legal framework that governs the country's largest performing rights organizations.

Unsatisfied with Lynch's answer to his question, Collins had this response:

"I never thought I'd say this, and I say this with due respect, Attorney General: I miss Eric Holder.

Because at least when he came here he gave us answers. We didn't like it, but I've spent the last four hours listening to basically the attorney general of the United States not willing to make a concrete statement of law."

Holder, of course, was not exactly the most popular Obama administration officials among Capitol Hill Republicans. House lawmakers voted in 2012 to hold him in contempt of Congress, the first attorney general to win that distinction, for his refusal to turn over documents related to the so-called Fast and Furious scandal. He stepped down from the post last year.

Meanwhile, Collins, a lawyer and Air Force chaplain, grew visibly more exasperated when he grilled Lynch about the timing of when she made the decision about Clinton and her views on the standard used to determine the presumptive Democratic nominee's liability in the email scandal:

"The issue that we have here is there's no ownership in (Department of Justice). It's no wonder the optics of this are so bad. I've never agreed probably with David Axelrod in my life, but the optics of this are terrible and you today have made it worse.

And as also a member of the military who just got through with my drill duty this weekend, you have basically to me offended every military member here who handles classified information, who does so with their training, and you've said basically, 'oh it depends on this.'" 

Collins ended his questioning with this, which drew some reaction from the room: "As a famous leader once said, the buck stops with me. Please go read that because this has been depressing."

You can also watch the video ">here. Things start getting prickly at the 2:30 mark.

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About the Author

Tamar Hallerman is The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Washington correspondent, covering Congress, federal agencies and other government activities that impact Georgia.