New documents indicate Attorney General Eric Holder was informed of Operation Fast and Furious and its investigative tactics in mid-2010.
The new documents show that on November 1, 2010, Deputy Attorney General Lanny Breuer, the chief of the Justice Department’s criminal division, personally informed Holder about the operation in a briefing. The document was a memo Breuer wrote to Holder saying in which he included a brief description of Operation Fast and Furious.
Another document is a July 2010 memo from the director of the National Drug Intelligence Center to Holder that details how “straw purchasers” — enabled by Operation Fast and Furious — were responsible for the purchase of 1,500 guns that were then supplied to Mexican drug cartels.
Straw purchasers are people who can legally buy weapons in the United States but do so with the known intention of trafficking them to Mexican drug cartels.
The Justice Department responded to this new information by saying that Holder receives many updates, memos and briefings daily and doesn’t always read them all — even if official records show he was informed of the intimate details of a case.
In early May, Holder told House oversight committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa that he was “not sure of the exact date [he first learned of Fast and Furious], but I probably heard about Fast and Furious over the last few weeks.”
These new documents indicate Holder may have committed perjury while testifying under oath, depending on the legal readings of his statements and all the evidence. It’s unclear at this point what, if anything, will happen next on that front.
Another document released contained internal emails between several high-ranking Justice Department officials asking if Breuer would help with a then-forthcoming press conference on Fast and Furious because the number of guns DOJ and ATF officials allowed to be “walked” into Mexico was significant. Allowing guns to “walk” means ATF and other law enforcement officials facilitated the sale of weapons to drug cartels via straw purchasers.
“It is not going to be any big surprise that a bunch of U.S. guns are being used in [Mexico], so I’m not sure how much grief we get for gun walking,” one high-ranking DOJ official wrote in an email.
That was in response to another high-ranking official who, after asking if they would have “Lanny” help with press, wrote: “It’s [Operation Fast and Furious] a tricky case, given the number of guns that have walked, but it is a significant set of prosecutions.”
*This story has been updated.