Issa Eviscerates Holder on Gunrunner
The entire video is riveting, but if you’re short on time, I have transcribed the best parts in this post, complete with time stamps so can you skip ahead to the good stuff. Issa lays out the basic problem at :49:
ISSA: Mr. Attorney General, we have two Border Patrol agents who are dead, who were killed by guns that were allowed, as far as we can tell, to deliberately walk out of gun shops under the program often called Fast and Furious. This program, as you know — and the President’s been asked about it, you’ve been asked about it – allowed for weapons to be sold to straw purchasers, and ultimately, many of those weapons are today in the hands of drug cartels and other criminals. When did you first know about the program, officially, I believe, called Fast and Furious? To the best of your knowledge, what date?
HOLDER: 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.
I doubt Holder’s claims that he just recently learned about it, but we’ll see. Asked whether Deputy Attorney General James Cole authorized the program, Holder at first stutters and says he didn’t hear the question, and then weakly says “my guess would be no.” Way to take the bull by the horns, Holder! You’re really banging heads together over there, aren’t you?
Issa gets a similarly evasive answer when he asks whether Lanny Breuer, the head of the Criminal Division, authorized the program. Make sure to watch at 2:13 as Holder nervously says he’s not sure, and then immediately launches into a lecture about how DoJ works. Issa stops Holder in his tracks:
ISSA: How about the head of the Criminal Division, Lanny Breuer. Did he authorize it?
HOLDER: I’m not sure whether Mr. Breuer authorized it. You have to understand the way in which the Department operates. Although there are operations, this one has become — has gotten a great deal of publicity.
ISSA: Yeah, there are dead Americans as a result of this failed and reckless program. So I would say that it hasn’t gotten enough attention, has it, Mr. Attorney General?
It’s nice to see that Issa isn’t backing down. When Holder claims that “there is an investigation that is underway” and that he is taking it seriously, Issa, obviously angry, baits the trap at 2:55:
ISSA: Mr. Attorney General, do you take seriously a subpoena signed by the Clerk of the House?
HOLDER: Of course.
ISSA: After 14 days of waiting for a letter to be signed or acknowledged or responded to, we sent a subpoena signed by the Clerk of the House. 32 days later, last night, your people responded by giving us 92 pages representing 3 documents that were public records already.
Ponder that one for a moment. So far, Issa’s people, after issuing a subpoena, have been given only documents that are already publicly available!
Congressmen exercising oversight responsibility do not issue subpoenas to get links to material on the Internet. Holder demonstrates almost Obama-like arrogance in responding in this fashion, while claiming to have no idea whether his top lieutenants greenlighted this irresponsible operation.
Holder and Issa then spar over whether further documents will be produced or merely made available for inspection. At 5:30, Issa asks a key question:
ISSA: Do you stand by this program? In other words — and it’s not a hypothetical, really. If you knew about this program 90 days ago, 180 days ago, would you have allowed it to continue, and if not, then what are you going to do about the people who did know and allowed it to continue?
Holder fails to answer the question about what he will do to the people who authorized the operation, but he does acknowledge that letting guns cross the border unmonitored is not something that is supposed to happen. Holder pontificates about the investigation he is conducting — but at 6:50, Issa makes it clear that the real investigation that needs to be undetaken is an investigation of Holder and Holder’s DoJ:
ISSA: We’re not looking at the straw buyers, Mr. Attorney General. We’re looking at you. We’re looking at your key people who knew or should have known about this and whether or not your judgment was consistent with good practices and whether or not instead the Justice Department is basically guilty of allowing weapons to kill Americans and Mexicans. So will you agree to cooperate with that investigation both on the House and Senate side?
HOLDER: We’ll certainly cooperate with all the investigations, but I’m going to take great exception to what you just said. The notion that somehow or other this Justice Department is responsible for those deaths that you mentioned, that assertion’s offensive. And I want to tell you that —
ISSA: But what if it’s accurate, Mr. Attorney General?
Boom! That, of course, is the real issue, and for Holder to pretend to be offended is an insult to the families of the victims who really should be offended at what the U.S. Government allowed to happen.
After Holder filibusters for a while about how offended he is at Issa’s question, Issa brings it home at 7:58: “What am I going to tell Agent Terry’s mother about how he died at the hand of a gun that was videotaped as it was sold to a straw purchaser fully expecting it to end up in the hands of drug cartels?”
Holder’s weak response is that “we’ll have to see exactly what happened with the guns that are at issue there.”
Yes, we will. But we won’t find out if Holder’s DoJ keeps stalling.
Luckily, it looks like Issa is going to stay on the case.
UPDATE: There will be a Senate oversight hearing tomorrow featuring Holder. Hopefully Chuck Grassley will get to ask Holder a few questions about the way that DoJ has totally stiff-armed Grassley, arguing that they typically respond only to questions propounded by the party in power. (Yes, they really said that, albeit in fancier words.) Now that Holder has agreed to cooperate with “all” the investigations — never mind that he was just saying anything to shut up Issa because Holder is an empty suit — we’ll see if he and his Department start treating Sen. Grassley with more respect.
I plan to post this at Hot Air in the morning, so let me know if you see any typos!Patterico (c218bd) — 5/3/2011 @ 8:34 pm
This post is like a highlights reel of a cage match between a bull and a piece of china.
Does Holder expect us to believe he doesn’t even know how far up approval of this program went? He claims to be investigating it, but if his response to the subpoena is compliant, there’s practically no investigation.
It’s a cover up. How does the person responsible for an investigation, being questioned about that investigation, not have a clear answer about who ultimately authorized the program he’s investigating?
The American people have every right to know the truth, but we’ll be lucky if we get it. How dare Holder keep this information from the American people. There really isn’t anything this government does that is more frustrating than this stuck up attitude that we don’t get to know what the hell they were up to. There are some very specific situations where that is justified, and an aftermath investigation isn’t one (quite the opposite).Dustin (c16eca) — 5/3/2011 @ 8:46 pm
Great post, Patterico.
HOLDER: 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.
How funny considering the rest of us have known about it since at least February, when Sharyl Attkisson broke the story. Strange, I would have thought Holder had greater access to DOJ information than the mere masses.Dana (4eca6e) — 5/3/2011 @ 8:50 pm
I didn’t see any typos, but a search suggests this is the only prior HotAir post on Gunrunner, so you may want a brief introduction or link to bring folks up to speed.Karl (385513) — 5/3/2011 @ 8:57 pm
AG Holder prolly enjoyed his job much more, and slept better, and had to change his underwear less often, when the Dems controlled the House.elissa (37707f) — 5/3/2011 @ 8:59 pm
You could say some former U.S. Attorney General was incompetent because he covered the breasts of statues. Although that is completely inaccurate.
Or you could say an U.S. AG is incompetent because he doesn’t know his department deliberately sold weapons to drug lords that ended up killing federal agents.
I guess what we can learn from this exercise is silly far outweighs life to the American left.
Long live the silly.Ag80 (6134b7) — 5/3/2011 @ 9:02 pm
Holder needs to go. But I can’t hold my Senator’s feet to the fire over Holder’s confimation since he voted “no” on Holder.
Combine Fast and Furious with the New Black Panther scandal, along with all the other things like going to bat for a Muslim teacher who had only been teaching a short time and wanted time off to make a little trip to Mecca and you have a DoJ that is worse than I ever thought.
Eric Holder makes Janet Reno look competent.retire05 (2d538e) — 5/3/2011 @ 9:15 pm
He wasn’t under oath, was he?daleyrocks (bf33e9) — 5/3/2011 @ 9:19 pm
I wonder how close we are here to Contempt of Congress.
Can the House issue such a citation without consent from the Senate?Steven Den Beste (99cfa1) — 5/3/2011 @ 9:39 pm
I think the charge would be contempt of the House, not of Congress, so it wouldn’t need the Senate’s concurrence.Milhouse (ea66e3) — 5/3/2011 @ 9:49 pm
You mean to tell me Eric Holder is in league with Hernan Reyes from fast five?
/HehDohBiden (15aa57) — 5/3/2011 @ 9:51 pm
Steven, no, they don’t need consent from the Senate.
One chamber can vote to have their Sergeant at Arms arrest a person and then, if that person is still not compliant, the chamber can sentence them to prison.
However, there’s a statutory alternative that is probably the only realistic avenue (not for any legal reason I can think of) that relies on a US Attorney.
Either way, I think merely moving in that direction would create so much politically painful attention on this problem that Holder would release documents (which is almost always how these end).
Anyhow, Harry Reid and the US Senate doesn’t have anything to do with it, thankfully.Dustin (c16eca) — 5/3/2011 @ 9:53 pm
The post is pretty damn riveting on its own.gary gulrud (790d43) — 5/3/2011 @ 9:55 pm
Watching the video itself (which is not too long, but a great watch), Issa really has command of this issue. He’s not referring to notes, and he is completely sincere about his outrage at this department.
I met him a few years ago (we shook hands and spoke for 30 seconds just as a citizen talking to a congressman), and I think he’s aged a bit. I wonder how stressful it is to pour over all the issues requiring oversight and reform in this administration.
It is quite a stark contrast between Holder’s shady uncertainty and Issa’s eye contact and focus.Dustin (c16eca) — 5/3/2011 @ 10:03 pm
Or better yet he might be in league with Bush.DohBiden (15aa57) — 5/3/2011 @ 10:14 pm
because Holder is an empty suit
I’m shocked! Are you sure about that?! Nothing has made me doubt the common sense and basic wisdom of people in the current White House. I mean look at the reassuring and down-to-earth nature of Holder last year…Mark (411533) — 5/3/2011 @ 10:18 pm
Guns are evil.
The left wants to use those guns against enemies perceived or real.DohBiden (15aa57) — 5/3/2011 @ 10:20 pm
Guns are evil was sarcasm.DohBiden (15aa57) — 5/3/2011 @ 10:22 pm
*sound of crickets from the lefty troll seats*M. Scott Eiland (43e415) — 5/3/2011 @ 10:32 pm
How can you expect Holder, or this Administration in general, to be concerned about illegalities conducted upon their behalf and the subsequent deaths of Federal Agents, Mexican officials, and citizens of both the United States and Mexico, when he has the more important job of ensuring that voter fraud goes unpunished in Philly, if not actively encouraging it?
You’re all Racists & Bigots to expect otherwise.AD-RtR/OS! (dcdc24) — 5/3/2011 @ 10:49 pm
Hard to believe that Ronald Reagan was the one who appointed this fellow to the Superior Court in DC. Which Democrat Senator did the Gipper owe a favor to back in 1988?JVW (db2114) — 5/3/2011 @ 11:15 pm
Maybe, back in 1988, this twerp had something resembling a sense of honor?C. S. P. Schofield (8b1968) — 5/4/2011 @ 12:06 am
Holder was a crook when he conspired with Bill Clinton to facilitate a pardon for Marc Rich in exchange for a bribe, and he was guilty of malfeasance when he conspired to let the Black Panther thugs walk, and he’s an accomplice in both the illegal gunrunning scam and in the cover-up.ropelight (1db36f) — 5/4/2011 @ 7:03 am
Holder should never have been appointed nor confirmed after his “work” on the Marc Rich pardon in the waning days of the Clinton Adminstration. Each day he proves himself to be an incompetent political hack. He should be removed from office by any means necessary.Bugg (9e308e) — 5/4/2011 @ 7:38 am
Holder isn’t just incompetent. He is a liar, a perjurer, and and an utterly corrupt political tool.
Some of us, myself included, predicted Holder’s reign at the DOJ would be marked by corruption, incompetence, and hitherto unknown efforts to politicize every conceivably politically useful aspect of the agency.
But even I am staggered by the magnitude of the corruption and incompetence. He has descended in overt racism, proposed an idiotic plan to bring foreign terrorists on to American soil for criminal trials, and has arguably provided material assistance to criminals, some of them foreigners, who have murdered American agents on American soil.
And then he lies under oath to the American people about all of it.
If justice was served, Eric Holder would be in prison.novaculus (80805a) — 5/4/2011 @ 7:44 am
He didn’t read the AZ law before commenting, what a hack.Heidi (3a1ff0) — 5/4/2011 @ 10:05 am
There is no doubt that Holder needs to go. His injustice department is even more politicized and corrupt than I imagined possible. Getting spanked publicly is satisfying but the world won’t be right until he looses his job and ends up behind bars.G Stoltz (dd39ad) — 5/4/2011 @ 10:05 am
“”The notion that somehow or other this Justice Department is responsible for those deaths that you mentioned, that assertion’s offensive.”
Don’t gun shops and gun shows and even gun manufacturers get labeled and sued for being responsible for a death when some thug shoots a person with a gun the investigator traces back to them? So that assertion may be offensive, but fair if his department’s program is responsible for the gun sale. Not so much fun when you have to be judged by the same standard.darkindy (557beb) — 5/4/2011 @ 5:48 pm
that’s exactly right, Darkindy. They blame the person who sold the gun for crimes that gun commits, even in a country where owning a gun is considered a human right. But they don’t blame themselves when they specifically get guns into the hands of violent criminals.
It’s sick.Dustin (c16eca) — 5/4/2011 @ 5:53 pm
Don’t forget that the gun shops did not want to sell guns that would end up in the hands of criminals but the ATF insisted. And the ATF has the power to shut them down, so they complied.SPQR (26be8b) — 5/4/2011 @ 5:55 pm
@Dana — 5/3/2011 @ 8:50 pm – #3
February? Sharyl Attkisson?
How odd to say that considering some of us have known about it since December, when Mike Vanderboegh and David Codrea broke the story.Uncle Al (85a012) — 5/4/2011 @ 9:45 pm
“The truth? The truth is what I SAY it is!”
— Six term Senator Charles Meacham in “Shooter”bobdog (166386) — 5/4/2011 @ 10:27 pm