Politics
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 31:  U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder participates in a panel discussion during a Federal Interagency Drug Endangered Children (DEC) Task Force event at the Justice Department May 31, 2011 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images) WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 31: U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder participates in a panel discussion during a Federal Interagency Drug Endangered Children (DEC) Task Force event at the Justice Department May 31, 2011 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)  

Holder claims his testimony was accurate, pushes back against ‘inflammatory rhetoric’

Photo of Matthew Boyle
Matthew Boyle
Investigative Reporter

Attorney General Eric Holder snapped back at the House oversight committee Friday afternoon, saying his testimony before a May 3 House Judiciary Committee hearing was “truthful and accurate” in what appears to be a Friday evening news dump.

In a five-page letter to House oversight committee chairman Rep. Darrell Issa, ranking Democratic member Rep. Elijah Cummings, Sen. Chuck Grassley and several other members of Congress, Holder lashed back at recent reports that he knew about the operation long before when he claims.

“Much has been made in the past few days about my congressional testimony earlier this year regarding Fast and Furious,” Holder wrote. “My testimony was truthful and accurate and I have been consistent on this point throughout. I have no recollection of knowing about Fast and Furious or of hearing its name prior to the public controversy about it.”

Holder’s testimony was called into question by CBS News and other press and public record accounts. In an Oct. 3 story, CBS investigative reporter Sharyl Attkisson reported that Justice Department spokespeople told her “[Holder] did know about Fast and Furious – just not the details.” A DOJ spokesperson, Tracy Schmaler, didn’t answer when The Daily Caller presented her with these inconsistencies.

Attkisson is the reporter White House press staffer Eric Schultz verbally attacked for her Fast and Furious reporting. It’s unclear if Schultz or the White House will apologize to Attkisson and CBS News for the alleged rude behavior, and Schultz has not answered when TheDC asked if he would.

Holder additionally claimed that he didn’t read weekly briefings addressed to him. “On a weekly basis, my office typically receives over a hundred pages of so-called ‘weekly reports’ that, while addressed to me’ actually are provided to and reviewed by members of my staff and the staff of the Office of the Deputy Attorney General,” Holder wrote.

Holder also said he’s held off talking about Operation Fast and Furious, the program in which federal agents allowed guns to be sold to Mexican drug cartels via straw purchasers, until now because he asked his department’s inspector general to conduct an internal investigation into what happened.

Despite having started its review months ago, the Justice Department’s Inspector General has not produced a report on it yet — though the House oversight committee’s investigation has produced results. Ken Melson has been reassigned from his previous post as acting director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and Phoenix U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke has resigned.

Holder said he now feels compelled to address the public’s concerns because new information indicates that he was informed of Fast and Furious multiple times and was given several briefings on what happened.

Holder said what he considers to be vitriol emanating from the media and Capitol Hill also forced him to address the concerns.

“[I]n the past few days, the public discourse concerning these issues has become so base and harmful to interests that I hope we all share that I must now address these issues notwithstanding the Inspector General’s ongoing review,” Holder wrote.

Holder specifically names a story TheDC first reported as one of the reasons he’s now talking. This week, TheDC reported that Arizona Republican Rep. Paul Gosar, who sits on the House oversight committee, thinks that administration officials responsible for Operation Fast and Furious should be considered “accessories to murder.” But Holder twisted Gosar’s comments.