Presidential comment line: 202-456-1111
Lois Lerner, the former official at the heart of the IRS targeting of conservative groups, and Eric Holder, Barack Obama’s attorney general, were each held in contempt by Congress. But in both cases, Congress blinked when it came to imposing effective consequences.

In June 2012, Mr. Holder was held in contempt for withholding documents Congress wanted from the botched Fast and Furious operation that put firearms in the hands of Mexican drug cartels. It was the first time Congress had taken such a move against a sitting cabinet member. The first contempt resolution referred the attorney general for criminal charges, while a second launched a civil suit seeking a court to order Justice to turn over the documents.

The Obama Justice Department declined to act on the criminal referral—as everyone knew it would. Though a judge would ultimately reject the administration’s claims of executive privilege, the ruling didn’t come until 2016. By that time Mr. Obama was wrapping up his second term, Mr. Holder had retired, and Fast and Furious had long since faded from the headlines.

But Congress has a third option for contempt: It can jail someone until he produces the testimony or documents sought. The advantage here is that Congress can do this all on its own. The last time Congress used contempt to jail was in 1934, when the Senate arrested, tried and then sentenced former Assistant Commerce Secretary William P. MacCracken Jr. to 10 days for allowing the removal and destruction of papers he’d been subpoenaed to produce.

Now, with Rod Rosenstein, Congress has an opportunity to put on their big boy pants and follow through.