Issa to Holder on F&F: “You are not a good witness”

posted at 4:01 pm on June 7, 2012 by Erika Johnsen

Earlier this week, House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa revealed that he had acquired new evidence supporting his claim that senior DOJ officials were well aware of the gunwalking occuring as part of the (not-“botched”) operation known as Fast & Furious. This morning, the House Judiciary Committee brought Attorney General Eric Holder in to testify regarding the new evidence.

Chairman Lamar Smith opened his remarks with Fast and Furious, saying the Department of Justice has not provided enough information about the operation that has left hundreds dead in Mexico and at least one U.S. federal agent, Brian Terry, dead. Smith berated the Justice Department for its failure to comply with Congressional subpoenas that “may shed light on why this program was authorized and who had knowledge of the inappropriate tactics.” …

“Fast and Furious was a mid-level, regional investigation,” Holder said. “Mr. Weinstein and Mr. Breuer did not know about the tactics being used in Fast and Furious until the beginning of last year.”

When asked about whether his senior officials in the Justice Department had simply read the wiretap applications, Holder responded by saying his top officials did not read the affidavits and the details of what was in the Fast and Furious wiretaps while trying to talk his way around the questions asked.

“Mr. Attorney General, you are not a good witness. Good witnesses answer the question,” Issa said. …

“A reasonable person would only come to the conclusion that senior members of the department of Justice knew about gunwalking tactics in Fast and Furious,” Rep. Jason Chaffetz said.

Lanny Breuer, by the way, is the Assistant Attorney General of the DOJ’s criminal division — a.k.a., one of Holder’s lieutenants. Chairman Issa said wiretap applications were signed by Mr. Breuer.

Chairman Issa was visibly frustrated; for just a taste of how contentious things got, here’s a clip (h/t Right Scoop) of Issa trying to grill holder while being continually interrupted by his scolding colleagues (and you can quit it with the smarm, Holder):

Besides the entertainment value, the real gist of that clip is that the DOJ has at least 140,000 documents relating to Fast & Furious, but have decided to only produce 7,600. What is it, sirs, that you’re so keen on hiding, exactly?

Among other run-arounds, Holder tried to use the tactical precedent set by the “previous administration” (really?) and insisted that all of the gunwalking programs were merely “flawed in concept and execution.” Here’s a particularly damning exchange with Rep. Chaffetz:

In summary, Eric Holder is still trying to deny that senior DOJ officials had any hand in Operation Fast & Furious, while he continues to stonewall, alter his story, and ignore the Congressional subpoena. As Rep. Gosar tweeted,

 

Woops: I initially only wrote the Lanny Breuer was the Assistant Attorney General, rather than the Assistant Attorney General of the criminal division; clarification added above!


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