Rep. Gowdy blasts Pelosi's voter suppression charges in Holder contempt pursuit: 'That is mind-numbingly stupid'

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," June 21, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: A political inferno! The firestorm over Fast and Furious raging out of control! Republicans and Democrats are at each other's throats! First President Obama invokes executive privilege. Then a House committee votes yes for a contempt resolution against Attorney General Eric Holder.

And today -- well, watch out! It's getting worse! Capitol Hill is getting downright dangerous. Party leaders come out swinging at everyone in their path.


REP. JOHN BOEHNER, SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: The decision to invoke executive privilege is an admission that White House officials were involved in decisions that misled the Congress and have covered up the truth.

REP. NANCY PELOSI, MINORITY LEADER: The attorney general of the United States is the person responsible for making sure that voter suppression does not happen in our country, that issues that relate to the civil liberties of the American people are upheld. These very same people holding him in contempt are part of a nationwide scheme to suppress the vote.

BOEHNER: The House will vote next week on a contempt resolution unless these documents that we're looking for are, in fact, turned over.

But this is about getting to the truth for the American people and the Terry family. It's not -- it's not about personalities here.

PELOSI: Don't forget they're going after Eric Holder because he is supporting measures to overturn voter suppression initiatives in the states. This is no accident. It is no coincidence (INAUDIBLE)


VAN SUSTEREN: Joining us is a member of the House Oversight Committee, Congressman Trey Gowdy. Nice to see you, sir.

REP. TREY GOWDY. R-S.C.: Good to see you also, Greta.

VAN SUSTEREN: In light of the latest developments, the last couple days, I'm curious. Do you believe the president or the attorney general is hiding something?

GOWDY: Well, they have to be. There's no other explanation. I was talking to my daughter tonight and I said, "Honey, when you make a good score on a test, you can't wait to tell me, but I have to pull it out of you when you don't get a good score."

I mean, we -- we by human nature volunteer good information. If these documents exonerated the attorney general or the Department of Justice, he would have given them to us eight months ago. So it doesn't take a very smart lawyer -- and the good news is I'm not, so it doesn't take a smart lawyer to deduce something in these documents will be damaging for either the White House, the Department of Justice or maybe both.

VAN SUSTEREN: There is one argument, though, on the other side, is that you don't want to go down a slippery slope that if this is -- if these documents are, indeed, protected legitimately by executive privilege, that you don't want to have that privilege pierced just because they're asked for, that there is some -- some, you know, need to have this executive privilege to protect communications.

Are you unconvinced that this is a legitimate use of that privilege?

GOWDY: Well, there's several different forms of executive privilege. The one that is most absolute would be close advisers talking to the president himself. Well, Greta, we know that that didn't happen because the attorney general says he never discussed it with the president. The president said he's never discussed Fast and Furious. I take them both at their word. So the highest level of executive privilege is not at play here.

Then you move to what's called the deliberative process, or a lower of executive privilege, which, frankly, Greta, is weak as water. The only thing we have to prove is that the documents are relevant to an investigation that may involve wrongdoing.

We could convince the DNC of that. There's not a jury in America we couldn't convince of that. So executive privilege, talking about national security secrets, the president being able to rely on the advice and counsel of his closest advisers -- that's not at play here by their own admission!

The third point I would raise is this. If executive privilege were so sacrosanct, if we were so worried about this slippery slope, why did they wait eight months to invoke the privilege? The return date on the subpoena was October 25th of last year! Why wait until 10 minutes before we start the markup on contempt of Congress if it's such a wonderful, valid defense?

VAN SUSTEREN: I'm going to ask our next guest, who is a Democratic member of Congress, so let me ask you, as well -- Leader Pelosi says that this vote for contempt is a Republican plan to suppress the vote. Her theory, I guess, is that you're trying to get the attorney general of the United States and that he is aggressively going out there, fighting a suppression of the vote.

Your response to that?

GOWDY: Well, you know, my friend Allen West said the race card was the last card in the deck. I think former speaker Pelosi has opened up a new deck and has found the 2 of clubs.

I could not believe it when I heard her saying that. Is that all you have to come back with? Is that the best you can come up with, is that we got together in this grand scheme to suppress votes? And I'm sure she didn't say Southern states, but that's what she meant.

I -- I -- it's really beneath the office of a member of Congress to say something that outrageous, and the fact that she was once the speaker is mind-numbing! I honestly -- and I've her a lot in my 16 years as a prosecutor. I couldn't believe the words coming out of her mouth.

But keep in mind, Greta, this is the same woman who said that she would have arrested Karl Rove any day she wanted. So I don't know what was wrong with her yesterday or today or whenever she said that, but I would schedule an appointment with my doctor if she thinks that we are doing this to suppress votes this fall. That is mind-numbingly stupid.

VAN SUSTEREN: I'm going to ask our next member of Congress, who also is a former federal prosecutor, like you. Here's what I don't understand. This murder occurred 18 months ago. The Justice Department says it's investigating. What in the world could take 18 months to get answers for the Terry family? This isn't -- this -- I mean, what could possibly be so complex or complicated that this family doesn't know who authorized it and how high up in the government people knew about it?

GOWDY: Nothing. And as you said, I think, two times ago, when I was privileged to be on your show, you just walk down the halls of Congress -- walk down the halls of the Department of Justice and find out who the highest level official was who knew about gun-walking or who approved the operation. It would take you and I, I suppose, about an afternoon to find out.

Now, there's been a change in the inspector general. We went from an acting inspector general to a fully confirmed inspector general. But Greta, there have been continents that have shifted in less time than it's taken us to find out some pretty simple questions.

I asked the questions yesterday. Who's the highest-rankling official that knew about gun-walking? How did the wiretap applications get approved? How did a demonstrably false letter be delivered to -- to a committee of Congress and Senator Chuck Grassley? Why did it take you 10 months to withdraw the letter?

Those are not complicated questions. I'm left to conclude, sadly, I might add, that they're withholding something or covering something up. There's no other explanation than something in those documents is going to be embarrassing to the president or the attorney general.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, could it be worse than embarrassing? I mean, you've seen a whole universe of other information. Could it be -- I mean, because we're all sort of left in mystery now. We don't -- you know, we're sort of sitting here, watching what's going on.

Is it possible it could be more than just embarrassing because, you know, there is something worse than embarrassing, there'd be, you know, some wrongdoing?

GOWDY: I sure hope not. And Greta, you know, the world that I come from, I have to have facts. I have to have evidence. I've seen no facts or evidence.

I do know this. The longer you remain silent, the longer you don't turn over documents, a presumption begins to build that you're withholding something. That's human nature. That may not be a legal presumption, but that's a common sense presumption.

If there was nothing in these documents, they would have given them to us. If executive privilege were so sacrosanct, they would have invoked it eight months ago. To wait 10 minutes before we start a markup? They still haven't told us which documents are privileged.

If the president had nothing to do with it -- and Greta, I'm convinced he did not, frankly. I don't think the president had anything to do with Fast and Furious. I'm not sure Eric Holder had anything to do with it, which then leads to a conversation about whether he should have known about it.

But invoking executive privilege, not turning over documents -- if -- if there were nothing in this discovery or production that was damaging, why would they not give it to us?

VAN SUSTEREN: Would you be agreeable, as sort of an effort to resolve this -- because the lines have now, obviously, been drawn in the sand -- would you be agreeable if the -- if the attorney general of the United States says, OK, Chairman Issa, you and anyone else you want from your side of the table and anyone from the Democratic side of the table -- you can come up to the Department of Justice, you can review these privately. We're not going to give these documents to you, but you can review all these documents, the specific ones you want, privately. You just can't disclose them. Would that satisfy you?

GOWDY: No, ma'am, because that evening, when Chairman Issa or Jason Chaffetz or myself were privileged to be on your show and you ask us, Well, what did you learn, and I have to say, Well, Greta, I can't tell you, you just have to trust me -- this is not just an exercise to satisfy my curiosity.

I get asked questions in South Carolina every time I go home. You're going to ask me questions. Brian Terry's family has questions.

The notion that we're going to keep this information in a small circle of members of Congress -- I don't want to see the wiretap applications. I don't want to see documents that could impact a prosecution or an ongoing investigation. I've no desire to see that.

But the circumstances surrounding the drafting of a false letter,, that has nothing to do with a trial or a prosecution. I'll also say this. I don't know which one of my colleagues is coming on after me, and Washington is such that it doesn't allow folks to cross the line very often.

I would hope in matters related to criminal justice -- and I hope I've proven to my colleagues on the other side, this is not a political exercise to me.

And if the attorney general were Republican, I would be on your show saying the exact same thing. Turn over the dad-gum documents. They're not privileged. This is bigger than politics. You have a dead Border Patrol agent. Our relationship with Mexico is impacted. Thousands of these weapons are unaccounted for. Our country's fingerprints are on them.

VAN SUSTEREN: And with that -- and with that, you know, I've got to go, Congressman. I hope you'll come back and soon, I hope, when this gets sorted out. Thank you, sir.

GOWDY: Yes, ma'am. Thank you.