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That defense was first raised in a February 4, 2011 letter from Assistant Attorney General Ronald Weich to Republican Senator Charles Grassley, Chair of the Senate Judiciary and a partner in the House investigation.
In that letter, Weich categorically denied that the DOJ used the gun-walking strategy, although that claim was later refuted in November 2011 by Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer, who heads the DOJ’s Criminal Division. Breuer told the Senate Judiciary Committee that Weich’s statement in that letter was in fact untrue and that Weich knew it was false long before the letter was written.
While the Justice Department officially retracted the letter in December 2011, Holder has not only refused to comply with a congressional subpoena for information about who prepared the February 4 letter and who reviewed it before it went out, but he has refused to turn over any documents created after the February 4 letter.
In fact, Holder has refused to turn over 80,000 subpoenaed documents to Congress, despite a threat from Republican House Committee Chairman Darrell Issa to seek a contempt of Congress ruling against Holder if he doesn’t comply.
That threat has so far failed to sway Holder who has consistently cited executive privilege as the basis for his refusal to turn over the documents to Congress, a stance Republican Representative Dan Burton called “baloney.”
In addition to holding back documents from congressional investigators, Holder has also prevented key Justice Department officials from testifying. When the Arizona US Attorney’s Office’s Criminal Division chief, Patrick Cunningham, was set to plead the Fifth to avoid admitting he committed a crime during Fast and Furious or the subsequent cover-up, Issa demanded Holder allow Cunningham’s subordinates, assistant United States attorneys Michael Morrissey and Emory Hurley, to testify before for the House committee.
In a letter sent to holder, Issa said both Morrissey and Hurley have “possession of key factual knowledge about Fast and Furious not readily available from any other source.” However, Holder has refused to make them available to speak with the committee, citing a policy of not making “line attorneys” available for congressional inquiry.
It should be noted that while Holder may be dragging his feet in determining any culpability from his DOJ staff in approving an illegal operation that killed a Border Patrol agent and scores of Mexican citizens, he did promise the House committee that he would not rest in holding people within the Justice Department accountable for divulging operational details of Fast and Furious.
Specifically, when Holder was confronted by Issa with the fact that wiretap applications involved in Fast and Furious showed that Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer and other high-ranking officials in the DOJ and ATF had knowledge of the gun walking techniques employed, Holder responded that he’s prepared to hold people in his organization “accountable right now for whistle blowing on the wiretap applications.”
Yet despite Holder’s zeal to pursue whistleblowers within the DOJ, Republican Representative Trey Gowdy could only conclude that “absolutely nothing has happened to a single solitary person as a result of this other than one dead Border Patrol agent and lots of Mexican citizens. Beyond that, I can’t find a single consequence that has befallen anybody who knew about this.”
If Eric Holder has anything to do about that, given his actions to date, none ever will.
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