GOP leadership piling the pressure onto AG Holder over Fast & Furious

Democrats are hoppin’ mad about Congressional Republicans’ calls to hold Attorney General in contempt of Congress — even though he’s consistently failed to comply with the House Oversight Committee’s requests for information concerning the not-botched gunwalking operation known as Fast and Furious, including a Congressional subpoena. “Unprecedented,” “witch hunt,” “unwarranted,” and etcetera are some of their favorite terms for categorizing those darned Republicans’ attempts to actually get to the bottom of the deadly operation.

At first, Speaker Boehner seemed cagey about actually forging ahead with holding Eric Holder in contempt — and perhaps he still is, because he’s finally decided to throw more of his weight behind getting Holder to pony up with the withheld documents, before Congress has to take it to the contempt-level. Earlier this week, Boehner personally asked Obama to pressure Holder to quit stonewalling, and today sent Holder a letter co-signed by Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, and Chairman Issa. And they did not mince words:

Dear Attorney General Holder:

We write to express our concerns with the lack of full cooperation from the Department of Justice (“the Department”) with the ongoing Congressional investigation into the operation known as “Fast & Furious” and the related death of Border Agent Brian Terry.  While we recognize that the Department has provided some documents in response to some aspects of the October 11, 2011, subpoena from the Chairman of the Oversight & Government Reform Committee (“the Committee”), two key questions remain unanswered: first, who on your leadership team was informed of the reckless tactics used in Fast & Furious prior to Agent Terry’s murder; and, second, did your leadership team mislead or misinform Congress in response to a Congressional subpoena?

We are troubled by the Department’s assertions that the Executive Branch possesses the ability to determine whether inquiries from the Legislative Branch have been fully complied with.  As the Supreme Court has noted, each co-equal branch of our Government is supreme in their assigned area of Constitutional duties.   Thus, the question of whether the Executive Branch has sufficiently complied with a Congressional subpoena requesting specific information pursuant to Congress’ Article I responsibilities is one only the Legislative Branch can answer.

One fact appears to be undisputed by all concerned: Fast & Furious was a fundamentally flawed operation.  It was taken to an extreme that resulted in at least one death of a U.S. Border Patrol agent and unknown other consequences, because U.S. law enforcement agencies allowed thousands of firearms to be illegally “walked” into Mexico and into the hands of drug cartels.  Beyond the horrific impact on the Terry family, there is no doubt that this operation has done serious harm to one of the United States’ most important bilateral relationships.  It is our hope that, in finding the truth, we can both provide closure to the Terry family, begin to repair our relationship with Mexico, and take steps to make necessary changes at the Department. …

Politico reports that the letter scales back somewhat on the broad range of requested information, and that its intent was more to establish the Republican leadership’s support of the investigation more than threaten contempt charges (an act they consider too aggressive for the time being), but still — the fat’s really in the fire now.

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