Should Holder walk the plank for Fast & Furious, or be pushed?
posted at 9:50 am on February 3, 2012 by Ed Morrissey
To call Eric Holder’s performance yesterday at the House Oversight Committee hearing unimpressive is to turn understatement into a kind of art form. The Washington Examiner called it “petulant, angry, and defiant,” and Holder more concerned about how Congress treats him than the hundreds of dead bodies strewn about Mexico and the US from weapons provided to drug cartels by his own ATF. It reached its nadir during this exchange with Rep. Raul Labrador:
Holder’s attitude before the committee yesterday could only be described as contemptuous. At one point, Rep. Raul Labrador read a dozen quotes from Holder over a period of more than a decade in which he had claimed his staff did not inform him about assorted matters. The attorney general disdainfully replied, “maybe this is the way you do things in Idaho or wherever you are from.” Labrador was born in Puerto Rico and represents an Idaho congressional district.
Rather than the country bumpkin Holder appears to consider him, Labrador is a lawyer and the former managing partner of a law firm. More important, he is an elected member of Congress tasked by the Constitution to ask whatever questions he deems appropriate in in a congressional oversight hearing probing executive branch law enforcement activities. As much as he clearly chafes under such oversight, Holder should be relieved of his duties.
Rep. Trey Gowdy agrees, and thinks that if Holder doesn’t want to do the honorable thing, then Congress should take action to remove him. However, Gowdy is also realistic about the odds of that happening:
While he was questioning Holder at the hearing, Gowdy explained that officials at the Department of Justice’s headquarters were aware of Fast and Furious and gun-walking tactics long before a “demonstrably false” letter was sent to Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley claiming otherwise. Since the DOJ sent that letter, which stated it never let guns walk, it has withdrawn the letter because it of its inaccuracies.
“I think he wound up admitting at the end [of the hearing] that Main Justice knew of gun-walking, so this notion that we’re going to blame it all on the United States Attorney’s office in Arizona or ATF – I went through a litany of people, all of them were Main Justice employees who knew about gunwalking both in Fast and Furious and before which means the letter that was sent to Senator Grassley was demonstrably false,” Gowdy told TheDC.
“We still haven’t gotten any of his emails,” noted Gowdy, “we don’t have any documents after February 4, so it’s clear to me that people at Main Justice knew that gun-walking was going on in Fast and Furious. It’s also clear to me 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.” …
“It’s not about Eric Holder, to me, as much as it is the reputation and the integrity of the top law enforcement official in this country and the Department of Justice,” Gowdy added. “It’s not about politics. If it were about politics, I’d say give us Jason Weinstein, [James] Trusty, [Lanny] Breuer. It’s about being able to look my constituents in the eyes and say you can have trust in the Department of Justice, because right now, the way it looks to me, is that they are engaged in this deflecting the blame, ‘we’re going to make you prove it,’ ‘we’re not going to give you documents unless there’s a court order.’ That’s just unacceptable to me.”
With that said, Gowdy also points out that the petition in Congress demanding Holder’s resignation has only collected a few more than one hundred signatures. “Get back to me when you have 218,” Gowdy tells The DC. Attempting to impeach and remove an official — a task that takes a two-thirds vote — is a fool’s errand if you can’t even get a majority to demand a resignation.
Finally, Nate Beeler captures the ludicrous nature of Holder’s insistence that he didn’t know anything about the nature of Fast and Furious but that he won’t give Congress access to anything that would test or prove that claim:
Be sure to check out Nate’s blog for more of his excellent work, featured at the indispensable Examiner.