Cummings: Project Gunrunner subpoena could compromise criminal investigations

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Jonathan Strong
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      Jonathan Strong

      Jonathan Strong, 27, is a reporter for the Daily Caller covering Congress. Previously, he was a reporter for Inside EPA where he wrote about environmental regulation in great detail, and before that a staffer for Rep. Dan Lungren (R-CA). Strong graduated from Wheaton College (IL) with a degree in political science in 2006. He is a huge fan of and season ticket holder to the Washington Capitals hockey team. Strong and his wife reside in Arlington.

Darrell Issa’s combative foil on the oversight committee, Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings, is warning Issa’s unanswered subpoena for documents relating to Project Gunrunner and Operation Fast and Furious could compromise ongoing criminal investigations, backing objections to the document demand by the Justice Department.

Cummings also says documents released Wednesday by Issa – most of which have been at least referenced in public already – reveal details on three ongoing criminal investigations.

“Our Committee has a responsibility to investigate allegations of waste, fraud and abuse. However, despite my repeated requests, Chairman Issa has refused to meet with the Department of Justice to ensure that his actions do not compromise ongoing investigations and prosecutions, including a trial of 20 individuals that is scheduled to begin in June,” Cummings said in a written statement.

An April 13 letter from a top Justice Department official to Issa on why the agency was not complying with the congressional subpoena said, “we are not in a position to disclose non-public information or documents relating to on-going criminal investigations, based on the Department’s long-standing policy relating to such matters.

“The policy is essential to our law enforcement mission,” the letter says.

Issa says the objection is spurious.

“We are not conducting a concurrent investigation with the Department of Justice, but rather an independent investigation of the Department of Justice,” Issa says in a April 20 letter, citing three historical examples of congressional oversight of Justice Department investigations, including during the Teapot Dome scandal in 1922.

Insiders say the standoff will likely result in a negotiation about which documents the agency releases. In response to the subpoena, the Justice Department released none.

At issue are documents related to Project Gunrunner and Operation Fast and Furious, in which the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) allowed American guns to be smuggled into Mexico and sold to Mexican drug cartels. The goal of the program was to track the illegal weapons and drug markets after they were used in crimes and abandoned using ballistics information and serial numbers for the guns.

  • virginiagentleman

    Cummings says it will compromise ongoing investigations? Are we talking about ‘investigations’ where someone has to die before we can ‘electronicly track’ the weapons used? Investigations where Barrett 50 cal. sniper weapons were allowed to ‘walk’ into Mexico? Friends and neighbors, are you feeling like mushrooms yet? Kept in the dark and fed sh!t?….Just askin’.

  • jonavark

    Term limits for circus acts. Please.

  • curmudgeon

    Cummings is afraid that the facade of the Justice Department and Eric holder will be destroyed and the political decision making on matters of justice will be exposed.

    Time for some sun to shine on Holder and his acolytes.

  • givemeliberty

    Teapot Dome Scandal? Wow. That brings back some memories from history class.

  • Rush Youngberg

    How many of these dudes does O have on the payroll? “National security, ongoing investigation”?