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Justice Department won't pursue case against Holder

Updated 4:!6 p.m. - As expected, the Justice has informed Congress that the U.S. attorney will not prosecute Attorney General Eric Holder for contempt, despite Thursday's House vote.

"The longstanding position of the Department of Justice has been and remains that we will not prosecute an executive branch official under the contempt of Congress statute for withholding subpoenaed documents pursuant to a presidential assertion of executive privilege," says Deputy Attorney General James Cole in a letter to the House speaker, John Boehner.

The letter notes that during the Reagan administration, DOJ took the position that the contempt statute could not constitutionally be applied to an official who asserts the president's claim of executive privilege. That policy was first articulated in a memo written by Ted Olson when he was at DOJ in 1984. 

Cole writes that the position has been asserted several times since then, most recently during the Bush administration in 2008.

He concludes by saying that the Justice Department has determined that Holder's response to the House committee subpoena "does not constitute a crime" and the Department will not refer the matter to a grand jury "or take any other action to prosecute the attorney general."