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Holder Contempt Threat Fast and Furious cover-up

Holder Contempt Threat Fast and Furious cover-up

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"If the department continues to obstruct the congressional inquiry by not providing documents and information, this committee will have no alternative but to move forward with proceedings to hold you in contempt of Congress,"
"If the department continues to obstruct the congressional inquiry by not providing documents and information, this committee will have no alternative but to move forward with proceedings to hold you in contempt of Congress,"

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Categories:Types, Letters
Published by: Investor Protection on Feb 07, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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02/07/2012

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OARRELL E. ISSA, CALIFORNIA
ONE HUNDRED TWELFTH CONGRESS
ELIJAH E. CUMMINGS,
MARYLAND
CHAIRMAN
RANKING MINORITY MEMBERDAN BURTON, INDIANA
EDOLPHUS TOWNS,
NEW
YORK
JOHN L MICA.
FLORIDA
CAROLYN B MALONEY. NELV
YORK
TODD RUSSELL PLATTS, PENNSYLVANIA
(Il:ongress' of tlJe Smteb States
ELEANOR HOLMES NORTON.
 MICHAEL R TURNER. OHIO
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
PATRICK McHENRY. NORTH CAROLINADENNIS J KUCINICH, OHIO
JIM JORDAN, OHIO
Qous'c of Sf pres'nttatib~s'
JOHN F. TIERNEY, h1ASSACHUSETTS
JASON
CHAFFETZ UTAH
WM. LACY CLAY. MISSOURI
CONNIE h1ACK, FLORIDA
STEPHEN F. LYNCH,
MASSACHUSETTS
TIM IVALBERG, MICHIGAN
COMMITTEE ON OVERSIGHT AND GOVERNMENT REFORM
JIKI COOPER. TENNESSEE
JAMES LANKFORD OKLAHOMAGERALD E. CONNOLLY, VIRGINIA
JUSTIN AMASH. MICHIGAN
MIKE QUIGLEY. ILLINOISANN MARIE BUERKLE, NEW YORK
2157 RAYBURN HOUSE OFFICE BUILDING
DANNY K. DAVIS. ILLINOIS
PAUL A GOSAR. D D 5, ARIZONA 
BRUCE L BRALEY, IOWA
HAUL R. LABRADOR. IDAHO
WASHINGTON, DC 20515 — 6143
PETER WELCH, VERMONT
PATRICK MEEHAN, PENNSYLVANIA
JOHN A. YARMUTH. KENTUCKY
SCOTT DssJARLAIS, h1 D., TENNESSEE
CHRISTOPHER 5 MURPHY, CONNECTICUT
I ssuoeiIv 1202I
225-5023
JOE WALSH. ILLINOIS
JACKIE SPEIER CALIFORNIAFaesiu is
(2021225-39TS
TREY DOWDY, SOUTH CAROLINA
M wohhv l2021225-5051
DENNIS A ROSS, FLORIDA
FRANK C. GUINTA. NEW HAMPSHIRE
htt pii oiers ght 
house gouBLAKE FARENTHOLD, TEXASMIKE KELLY, PENNSYLVANIA
LAWRENCE J BRADY
STAFF DIRECTOR
January 31, 2012The Honorable Eric H. Holder, Jr.Attorney GeneralU.S. Departinent of Justice950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NWWashington, D.C. 20530Dear Attorney General Holder:On October 12, 2011, this Committee issued a subpoena to you for documents regardiilgOperation Fast and Furious. The subpoenaed documents are vital to help Congress fully understand thegenesis, implementation, and oversight of Operation Fast and Furious within the Department of Justice.They are also critical in understanding how the Department inishandled its response to Congress andobstructed our investigative responsibilities.Late on Friday, January 27, 2012 — a year into our investigation — the Depaitment produceddocuments that provide staitling new details about the involveinent of senior Department officials in whatappears to be the Fast and Furious cover-up. We now know that Assistant Attorney General LannyBreuer, head of the Criminal Division, promoted the moving of guns to Mexico as a strategy worthpursuing. This dangerous strategy relied on Mexican law enforcement officials to capture the guns andthe smugglers who trafficked them. One e-mail reads,
"Breuer suggested allowing straw purchaserscross into Mexico so SSP [Secretariat of Public Security] can arrest and PGR [Office of the GeneralProsecutor] can prosecute and convict. Such coordinated operations between the US and Mexicomay send a strong message to arms traffickers."'
These new documents show that Breuer made thisstatement on February 4, 2011, the same day Assistant Attorney General Ronald Weich wrote toCongress denying that the Department allowed guns to walk.The fact that the Departnlent just produced this document on Friday shows the lengths to ivhichyou are willing to go to obstruct our investigation and deceive the public. Just inonths ago, the prioradministration faced severe cr iticism regarding the ATF Phoenix Field Division's alleged use of similartactics. Mr. Breuer advocated these same tactics. It is inconceivable that the Department just becameaware of this highly damaging document. On October 31, 2011, Mr. Breuer apologized for failing to stopquestionable tactics used in Fast and Furious in 2010. Yet, as late as February 2011, he was activelyadvocating gunwalking. This e-mail casts renewed doubt on the sincerity of Mr. Br'euer's apology and hisability to continue to serve in a leadership role at the Department.
' E-mail from Anthony P. Garcia to Adam Lurie, Bruce Swartz, Kenneth Blanco, Jason Weinstein, et al. (Feb. 4,2011, 3:49 PM) [HOGR DOJ 005752-54].
 
The 1 lonorable 1=.ric H. Holder. Jr.January 31, 2012Page 2
During > our testinion> before thc I-louse Judicial Coininittee on Decei»ber II. 2011. you stated
that the Departiiieiit of Justice «ill iiot produce an> respo»sive docui»ents created alter Februai> 4, 2011regarding Operatioii I ast and I.urious. Your testimon> «as the first assertioii of'this positioii to Con iess.In no uncertain terms, >ou stated that:
[W]ith regard to the Justice Department as a «liole — and I'm certainl> a inci»ber
of the Justice Departnient — «e « ill not proa ide memos after February the 4th...e-inails, i»enios — consistent « ith the «ay
iii
«hich the Departnient of Justice hasal«a> s condiicted itself'
iii
its interactions.You again iinpressed tliis point upon Coininittee Menibcrs later in the hearing:Well, «itli tlie regard to provision of e-mails, I thought I' ve inade it clear that
atter Februar> the 4th it is not our intention to provide e-mail inforntation
consistent «ith tlie «ay in «hicli the Justice Depaitnient has al«a>s co»ducted
i tsel I'.
Your tcstimon> indicates that the Departi»e»t has no intention of tully coiiiplving «:ith theCominittee's subpoena. Tliis position is entirely unacceptable. For tliree i»ontlis after Senator Grassle>" sinitial letters, the Departinent «as in denial that the congressional investigation had any i»crit. Not til aMay 5, 2011, ineeting « ith Committee staff did tlie Depar.tnient finally admit that "there's a there. there."
1 he actions of the Department folio« ing February 4 are crucial in detertnining> «hether it lias concealed
i»fort»atio» froi»
Coii<>r.ess
including subpoe»aed infol'lll<ltion — and to «hat extent it has obstructed our«'ork.During a transci ibed interview
oii
December 14, 2011, voui. chief of staff, Gar> Grindler,broadened the Depaiti»ent>s position «'ith respect to sharing doc»»tents created alter I.ebruary 4. 2011.
The Associate Deputy Attorne> General sen ing as Departinent counsel refused to allo«Mr. Grincller toans«'er an> questions relating to conversations that he had « ith >ou or an> one else in tlie Departmentregarding I.ast and Furious after I.ebruary 4, 2011:
What I ant saviiig is that the Attorne> General i»ade it clear at his testil»on>' last«eel' that «e ai'e not providing information to the coinmittee subsequeiit to theFebruary 4tli letter.'
Depart»tent counsel expanded the position > ou articulated regarding docui»entary evidence at theJudiciary Cominittee heariiig to include testintonial evidence as «ell.' Given thc initial response b> the
Depai1ment to the congressional inquiry earlier tliis > car. the coi»ments by thc Associate Deputy AttorneyGeneral create a barrier preventing Congress 1'roi» obtaining vital iiifonnation about I.ast and Furious.The Del)artinent has also ntaintaincd this position during additional transcribed intcrvie«s. In all
intervi« ith Deputy Assistant Attornc> General Jason Weinstein on January 10, 2012. in response to a
question aboiit Mr. Weiiistein's interactions «'ith the Arizona U.S. Attorne>''s Office, Departinent counsel
Oi ersiglii Hea>i»g> vji (he United 5ra(es Del> a> ime>a of Jastice of (lie H. Comm. on (lie li(<li ciai>',
112th CQIlg.
(Dec. 8, 2011) (testimon> of Att'v Gen. Fric H. Holder, Jr.) [hereinafter 11older Testimony].' I<iTranscribed Intervie«of'Gai> Grindler, Chief of Staff to the Att'y Gen. (Dec. 14. 2011) at 22.
' l<l,
 
1 he Honorable Eric H, Holder, Jr.January 31. 2012Page 3
prohibited aii entire line of questioning b> claiming it "iniplicatcs the post-February 4th period."
.6
Departinent cou»sel cited a -coiistitiitional prii ilege" in support of this position, «ithout elaboratingfuither. To date, tlie Dcpartinent has not provided an> tt»1hcr detail as to the scope ot'this position.«hich «' as at odds «'ith ivlr. i<'einstein's «'illingness to ans«'cr the Connnittee's questions:
[Ajs I said, I perso»ally «ould be more than happ> to ans«er questions about
post-I-'cbruar> 'Ith, but I ain not authorized to do so.
S
In fact, folio«'ing the I'ebruar>' 'I, 2011, letter, Mr. hei»stein. at the behest ot Mr. Breuer< prepared an
aiialytical reviot I.ast and I-urious. Mr. V<'eiitstein inter> ie«:ed Einoiy I liirle> aiid patrickCunningham of tlie Arizona V.S. Attor»e> 's oflice iii conducting this revie«The document tltat
resiilted from Mr. Wei»stein's anal>sis specificall> discussed issues relevant to tlie case. To date. tlie
Departi»eiit has not protluccd this docuineiit to the Coinmittee, despite the fact that it is responsive to the
subpoena.
At the Decei»ber 8 hearing, >ou also stressed, on multiple occasions, that the Departinent'sdecision to pi oduce doctiments related to the February I. 2011 letter to Senator Grasslcy «' asunprecedented, and reflected an effort to bc transparent. Such comincnts, ho«'e~er, coinpletely belie the
il
I'acts aiid are inisleading. First and fore»tost, I ca»iiot uiideremphasizc that the Departinent's February 'I,2011, letter to Coiigress contained talse information. You decided to release inaterials related to the letteronly atter Coininittee staff inforntcd Departinent Ia«>'ers that the Coi»mittee vvas considering a criminalreferral. It is disingenuous to claiin that this «as a xoluntar> eftort to be transparent. Vnfortunatel>', the
Departi»ent's dela>s in docunient production reflect a recurring pattern throughout this investigation. To
put it bliiiitl>. tlte Departinent has been irresponsible in failing to take congressional oversight of Fast and
Furious seriously.
The Cot»t»ittce issued its first subpoena tor documents on March 31, 2011. In response, theDeparts»ent produced zero pages of non-public doc»i»cuts until June 10. 2011, ovei. t«<o months later, andon tile ci c of the Committee's first hearing into Fast and Fui ious. 'I hat hearing featured constitutional
scholars «ho e<plained thc Dcparti»ent's clear obligations to coinpl> «:itli the subpoena and highlighted
congressional nieclianisins to contpel pioduction. Faced «ith tlie possibilit> of conteinpt proceedings, theDepai tment began to pr.oduce docuincnts.Over tlte next tive inonths. Senator Grassley and I repeatedl> asked for infori»ation surroundingthe creation of tlie Depar.ti»ent's February 4. 2011 letter. The Dcpai tinent llatl> refused these requests. It«' as iiot until in> Noa eniber 9, 011 letter to Assista»t Attonie> General Ronald Weich — «hich raised thepossibility of criniinal cliarges for the false statetncnts tnade in the Februar> 'I letter — that the Depaitmentfinally sa«' fit to give Congress the»taterials «'e had been requesting for inonths. Contrary to state»tentsyou inade during tlie Deceinber 8 heariiig, >ou did not release these materials voluntarily. Instead. the
Depaitment prox idcd the»> because it had no alternative.As I stated in»» No>ember 9, 2011 letter to Assistant Attorne> General reich, understanding
tlie Dcpartinent's actions after Congress began its investigation is crucial. Even after the Departi»ent
Transcribed I»tervie«' of Jason Wei»stei», Deputy Assistant Att'y Ge». (Ja». 10, 2012) at 177.
I(I.
at 178.
I(I.
at 227,
Transcribed I»tervie«' of Dennis K. Burke at 158-60 (Dec. 13, 2011).'" I(l. at 158-59.
" Holdei Testil»oily,
sl(p(((»ote 
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