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2012-06-14.Dem Briefing Memo.062012 FC Business Mtg

2012-06-14.Dem Briefing Memo.062012 FC Business Mtg

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06/14/2012

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DARRELLE.ISSA,CALIFORNIACHAIRMAN
ONEHUNDREDTWELFTHCONGRESS
ELIJAHE.CUMMINGS,MARYLANDRANKINGMINORITYMEMBERDANBURTON,INDIANAJOHNL.MICA,FLORIDATODDRUSSELLPLATTS,PENNSYLVANIAMICHAELRTURNER,OHIOPATRICKMcHENRY,NORTHCAROLINAJIMJORDAN,OHIOJASONCHAFFETZ,UTAHCONNIEMACK,FLORIDATIMWALBERG,MICHIGANJAMESLANKFORD,OKLAHOMAJUSTINAMASH,MICHIGANANNMARIEBUERKLE.NEWYORKPAULA.GOSAR.D.D.S.•ARIZONARAULR.LABRADOR,IDAHOPATRICKMEEHAN,PENNSYLVANIA
scan
DESJARLAIS,M.D.,TENNESSEEJOEWALSH,ILLINOISTREYGOWDY.SOUTHCAROLlN.ADENNIS
A.
ROSS.FLORIDAFRANKC.GUINTA,NEWHAMPSHIREBLAKEFARENTHOLD.TEXASMIKEKELLY.PENNSYLVANIA
~onllrC55
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MAJORm'(202)225~074FACSIMIL.!=
(202)
225-3974MINORITY(202)225-6051http://oversight.hause.goYEDOLPHUSTOWNS.NEWYORKCAROLYNBMALONEY.NEWYORKELEANORHOLMESNORTON,DISTRICT0FCOLUMBIADENNIS
J
KUCINICH,OHIOJOHNF.TIERNEY.MASSACHUSETTSWM.LACYCLAY,MISSOURISTEPHENF.LYNCH.MASSACHUSETTSJIMCOOPER,TENNESSEEGERALDE.CONNOLLY.VIRGINIAMIKEQUIGLEY.ILLINOISDANNYKDAVIS.ILLINOISBRUCEL.BRALEY.IOWAPETERWELCH,VERMONTJOHNAYARMUTH,KENTUCKYCHRISTOPHERS.MURPHY,CONNECTICUTJACKIESPEIER.CALIFORNIA
COMMITTEEONOVERSIGHTANDGOVERNMENTREFORM2157
RAYBURNHOUSEOFFICEBUILDINGWASHINGTON,
DC20515-6143
LAWRENCE
J.
BRADYSTAFfDIRECTOR
MEMORANDUMJune14,2012To:DemocraticMembersoftheHouseCommitteeonOversightandGovernmentReformFr:DemocraticStaffRe:BusinessMeetingtoConsiderMotiontoHoldAttorneyGeneralinContempt
OnWednesday,Jooe20,2012,at10:00a.m.,inroom2154oftheRaybumHouseOfficeBuilding,theCommitteeisscheduledtoholdabusinessmeetingtoconsideramotionbyChairmanIssatoadoptaCommitteereportresolvingtoholdAttorneyGeneralEricHolder"incontemptofCongressforfailuretocomplywithacongressionalsubpoena"relatingtotheCommittee'sinvestigationofOperationFastandFurious.ThismemoprovidesanupdateonthestatusofnegotiationsbetweenCommitteestaffandtheDepartmentofJustice.
It
alsoconveysdraftDissentingViewsthatdetailsignificantdeficiencieswiththedraftContemptCitationthatremainsontheCommittee'sagendaforWednesday.
I.STATUSOFNEGOTIATIONS
It
isunclearasofthedateofthismemowhethertheCommitteeandtheDepartmentwillreachanagreementtoavoidcontempt.Recenteventsincludethefollowing:OnMonday,ChairmanIssaofficiallynotifiedCommitteeMembersthathehadscheduledabusinessmeetingonJune20,2012,tovoteonhisContemptCitation.Atthesametime,heissuedapressreleasestatingthat"theJusticeDepartmentcanstillstoptheprocessofcontempt"byproducingdocumentscreatedafterFebruary4,2011,"relatedtoOperationFastandFuriousandwhistlebloweraccusationssubpoenaedbytheCommittee."Chairmanlssaalsostatedthathewas"confidentwecanreachagreementonothermaterialsandrendertheprocessofcontemptunnecessary."LateronMonday,DeputyAttorneyGeneralJamesColewrotetoChairmanIssastatingthat,althoughtheDepartmentwassurprisedthattheCommitteehadscheduledavoteontheContemptCitation,hebelievesthat"conversationsbetweenourstaffshavebeenprodrrctive=arrdthat"an-ami-cableresolution
of
thesemattersisachievable."-f1ealsorenewedhispreviousofferstomeetpersonallyinordertoreacharesolution.
1
 
OnTuesday,RankingMemberCummingswrotetoChairmanIssarequestingthattheyjointlyaccepttheofferbyDeputyAttorneyGeneralColetomeetinperson.Healsowrote:"IfwecanrecognizethevalidinterestsoftheDepartmentinprotectingtheindependenceofitsongoingcriminalinvestigationsandprosecutions,Ibelievewecanworktogethertowardatimelyresolutionofthismatter."LateronTuesday,theAttorneyGeneraltestifiedbeforetheSenateJudiciaryCommitteethatheis"preparedtomakecompromiseswithrespecttothedocumentsthatcouldbemadeavailable,"andheofferedtomeetwithHouseSpeakerJohnBoehnerandChairmanIssapersonally.OnWednesday,ChairmanIssasentalettertotheAttorneyGeneralstatingthathewasnarrowingthecategoriesofdocumentshewasdemandingtoone:"documentsfromafterFebruary4,2011,relatedtotheDepartment'sresponsetoCongressandwhistleblowerallegations."Healsowrote:"iftheDepartmentofJusticesubmitsaseriousproposalforhowitintendstoalteritsrefusaltoproducecriticaldocumentssubpoenaedbytheCommittee,Iamreadyandwillingtomeettodiscussyourproposal."
It
isexpectedthatnegotiationswillcontinuethroughtheendoftheweek,andperhapsintonextweek.RankingMemberCummingsissuedthefollowingstatementonthestatusoftheongoingnegotiations:IamguardedlyoptimisticthatapathforwardexiststhatwillservethelegitimateinterestsoftheCommitteeinconductingrigorousoversight,protectthelegitimateinterestsoftheDepartmentinitsongoinginvestigationsandprosecutions,andavoidtheneedlesspoliticizationofthisveryseriousissue.
II.DISSENTINGVIEWS
SincethebusinessmeetingscheduledfornextWednesdayhasnotbeenpostponedorremovedfromtheCommittee'scalendar,itisimportantforCommitteeMemberstobefullypreparedintheeventthatnegotiationsareunsuccessful.CommitteeRule4(b)providesthataproposedCommitteereport,suchastheContemptCitation,"shallnotbeconsideredinthecommitteeunlesstheproposedreporthasbeenavailabletothemembersofthecommitteeforatleastthreecalendardays."ChairmanIssacirculatedthisContemptCitationtoCommitteeMembersonMay3,2012,fulfillingthisrequirement.AttachedforyourreviewaredraftDissentingViewsthatarebasedonathoroughreviewoftheContemptCitation,whichwasprovidedtoCommitteeMembersonMay3,aswellasthelegalandhistoricalprecedentsoftheCommitteeandCongress.ThedraftDissentingViewsmakethefollowingconclusions:TheContemptCitation,ascirculatedbytheChairman,isirresponsible,unprecedented,andcontrarytotheruleoflaw.
2
 
It
wouldholdtheAttorneyGeneralincontemptnotonlyforcomplyingwithstatutespassedbyCongressthatrequirehimtoprotectdocumentsfromdisclosure,butalsoforwithholdingdocumentsrelatingtoongoingcriminalinvestigationsthathavebeenprotectedconsistentlybyDemocraticandRepublicanadministrationstosafeguardthelivesofinformantsandensuretheintegrityofactivecriminalinvestigations.HoldingtheAttorneyGeneralincontemptofCongressforprotectingthesedocumentsisanextremeandblatantabuseofthecongressionalcontemptpowerthatunderminesthecredibilityoftheCommittee.TheHouseofRepresentativeshasneverinitshistoryvotedtoholdasittingAttorneyGeneralincontemptofCongressforprotectingsuchdocuments,anditshouldnotdosointhiscase.TheContemptCitationinaccuratelycitesasprecedenttheCommittee'sinvestigationoftheleakofthecovertstatusofCIAoperativeValeriePlameWilsonin2007and2008.TheContemptCitationomitsthekeyfactthatthen-ChairmanHenry
A.
WaxmandelayedtheCommittee'sreviewoflawenforcementdocumentsattherequestofPatrickFitzgerald,the
u.s.
AttorneyandSpecialProsecutorinvestigatingtheleak,untilafter
I.
Lewis"Scooter"Libby,VicePresidentDickCheney'schiefofstaff,wasconvictedandsentencedforobstructingjustice,perjury,andmakingfalsestatements.TheonlyotherprecedentreferencedintheContemptCitationforholdingasittingAttorneyGeneralincontemptforrefusingtoprovidedocumentsthatimpactanongoingcriminalinvestigationisthisCommittee'svotein1998toholdthen-AttorneyGeneralJanetRenoincontemptduringthecampaignfinanceinvestigationconductedbythen-ChairmanDanBurton.ChairmanBurton'sinvestigationwaswidelydiscredited,andthedecisiontoholdtheAttorneyGeneralincontemptwascriticizedbyeditorialboardsacrossthecountryas"agrossabuseofhispowersaschairmanofthecommittee,"a"fishingexpedition,""lacedwithpalpablepoliticalmotives,"and"showboating."Then-SpeakerNewtGingrichneverheldavoteontheHousefloor.TheContemptCitationfailstohonortheConstitutionalrequirementtoavoidunnecessaryconflictwiththeExecutiveBranchbecauseitdisregardstheDepartment'ssignificantaccommodationofproducingtotheCommitteeahostofinternaldocumentsrelatingtotheDepartment'sresponsestothisinvestigation.Ratherthanconductingthisinvestigationinaneven-handedmanner,theCommitteehaspoliticizedthisinquirybysystematicallyrefusingtoinvestigategunwalkingoperationsduringtheBushAdministrationandbydisregardingclearevidencethatcontradictsthepoliticalnarrativeintheContemptCitation.TheChairmanhasrefusedmultiplerequestsforformerAttorneyGeneralMichaelMukaseytotestifybeforetheCommitteeortomeetwithCommitteeMembersinformallytodiscusstheoriginationandevolutionofgunwalkingoperationssince2006.DocumentsobtainedduringtheinvestigationindicatethatMr.Mukaseywasbriefed3

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