Why’s that a big deal? Watch the video below from CNS showing Holder’s testimony before Issa’s House committee back on May 3. The question: “When did you first know about the program, officially called, I believe, ‘Fast and Furious’?” The answer:
I’m not sure of the exact date but I probably heard about Fast and Furious for the first time over the last few weeks.
Not so, says CBS News:
New documents obtained by CBS News show Attorney General Eric Holder was sent briefings on the controversial Fast and Furious operation as far back as July 2010. That directly contradicts his statement to Congress…
The documents came from the head of the National Drug Intelligence Center and Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer…
Two Justice Department officials mulled it over in an email exchange Oct. 18, 2010. “It’s a tricky case given the number of guns that have walked but is a significant set of prosecutions,” says Jason Weinstein, Deputy Assistant Attorney General of the Criminal Division. Deputy Chief of the National Gang Unit James Trusty replies “I’m not sure how much grief we get for ‘guns walking.’ It may be more like, “Finally they’re going after people who sent guns down there.”
The Justice Department told CBS News that the officials in those emails were talking about a different case started before Eric Holder became Attorney General. And tonight they tell CBS News, Holder misunderstood that question from the committee – he did know about Fast and Furious – just not the details.
He didn’t know about the details? Here’s the unredacted bit from the briefing sent to Holder on July 5, 2010 by the director of the National Drug Intelligence Center:
No code words or euphemisms there. Nice and specific. And yet Eric Holder, upon discovering that 1,500 guns had been “supplied” to Mexican drug cartels in an operation managed by the ATF, apparently didn’t demand a full explanation. Fancy that.
Follow the CNS link above and you’ll see that Issa’s maintained all along that Holder must have known about F&F sooner than he testified. Last month, at a DOJ news conference, Holder called F&F “clearly a flawed enforcement effort” but added:
“The notion that this reaches into the upper levels of the Justice Department is something that at this point I don’t think is supported by the facts and I think once we examine it and once the facts are revealed we’ll see that’s not the case,” Holder told reporters.
Well, obviously it does reach into the upper levels of the Department. Even if you’re willing to buy Holder’s absurd excuse that he had no reason to know the details of the operation despite knowing that guns were being walked to Mexican drug lords, we’ve got the memos from Breuer and the Drug Intelligence Center and the e-mail discovered by CBS between Weinstein and Trusty. (I’m dying to know which “other case” the DOJ thinks they were discussing, per the Department’s excuse to CBS.) In fact, Issa told Laura Ingraham last month: “We have a paper trail of so many people knowing that the only way the attorney general didn’t know is he made sure he didn’t want to know… But if you don’t want to know something of this sort then you shouldn’t have the job he has. And ultimately one of the questions is, if he didn’t know, is he that inept that he is dangerous to have as the attorney general, and that is for the president to decide.” That’s exactly where we are here tonight with these new docs. Either Holder didn’t want to know more after reading that July 2010 briefing or he read it and simply didn’t recognize the gravity of what he was reading. Big, big trouble either way.
Update: Here’s Fox’s segment on the new docs. The key bit is at the end, where they say a former DOJ official familiar with Holder’s operation told them he receives dozens of memos a week and doesn’t always read them. Fantastic. That’s exactly what you want in America’s top prosecutor. Let’s have him back before that House committee and let him offer the “I don’t always do my homework” excuse himself.