House committee chairman Issa wants more Fast and Furious documents from Justice Department
WASHINGTON — House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., said the Justice Department released 64,280 pages of documents Monday night related to Fast and Furious, the botched Phoenix-based gun-tracking operation, but he wanted much more.
The operation targeted Mexican gun traffickers, but two rifles involved were linked to the killing of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry.
Justice Department spokesman Brian Fallon said in a statement: “There is nothing in the materials produced today that contradicts what the Department has said in the past about this flawed operation. Indeed the materials produced today affirm the Inspector General’s finding that the Attorney General was not made aware of the tactics involved in the Fast and Furious operation until February 2011.”
But a statement from Issa’s panel said the documents showed that “the President and the Attorney General attempted to extend the scope of the Executive Privilege well beyond its historical boundaries to avoid disclosing documents that embarrass or otherwise implicate senior Obama Administration officials.”
How embarrassing are they?
Some highlights: In one April 2011 email, as the investigation was heating up, Attorney General Eric Holder wrote to senior officials: “Issa and his idiot cronies never gave a damn about this when all that was happening was that thousands of Mexicans were being killed with guns from our country. All they want to do — in reality — is cripple ATF (the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives) and suck up to the gun lobby. Politics at its worst — maybe the media will get it.”
Holder has always claimed that he didn’t know about the tactics used in the operation until February 2011. On Feb. 23, after he was alerted to a CBS News story that had just broken, Holder sent an email at 5:27 p.m. to senior Justice officials saying: “Ok. We need answers on this, not defensive bs — real answers.”
In October 2011, as the controversy was building and Issa was demanding more documents, senior White House adviser Valerie Jarrett wrote Holder with a “Fast and Furious” subject line. “I’m sorry,” she wrote.
“Time to go to the mattresses,” Holder responded. “Ready for the fight. Will send some of our stuff. All I have are the facts.”
Three minutes later, Jarrett wrote: “Facts always work.”
Issa is hardly satisfied with the latest batch of emails.
“When Eric Holder wants to know why he was the first Attorney General held in criminal contempt of Congress, he can read the judge’s order that compelled the production of 64,280 pages that he and President Obama illegitimately and illegally withheld from Congress,” Issa said in the committee statement.
“Since these pages still do not represent the entire universe of the documents the House of Representatives is seeking related to the Justice Department’s cover-up of the botched gun-walking scandal that contributed to the death of a Border Patrol agent, our court case will continue.”