Rep. Paul Gosar jabbed back at Attorney General Eric Holder after he swiped at him and other congressional Operation Fast and Furious investigators in a late Friday letter. Gosar told The Daily Caller that “In Main Street America, you’d never get away with” dissembling about the gun-walking program, and that in different circumstances, “the people who’ve been responsible would’ve already been in jail.” Gosar also added his name to the short but growing list of those in Congress calling for the attorney general’s immediate resignation.
“It [Holder’s letter] is rhetoric. I think it’s funny that that’s the heat we take now when we’re in the focus of hearings and the focus of calls for his resignation,” Gosar told The Daily Caller. “[He says] ‘oooh, we want to sing Kumbayah and bring everybody together so that we can diffuse that.’ It’s also interesting that he and leadership in the Justice Department didn’t really exercise that in Arizona by reaching out and really trying to work on issues – they just continue to dictate accordingly.”
“We’ve seen this over and over again – accused of political posturing that the administration is really guilty of,” Gosar added. “It’s false rhetoric.”
House oversight committee chairman Rep. Darrell Issa hinted that he also thinks Holder should step down, saying on Fox News’ Hannity on Friday night that he’s hoping for a “change we can believe in” at the Justice Department. Congressman Issa, however, hasn’t made an outright call for Holder’s resignation.
Gosar adds that he doesn’t “want him just to resign.” He wants Holder to “comply fully with the subpoena” and offer up all the details of what happened.
Holder specifically targeted Gosar in his Friday letter. Holder wrote the reason he’s finally talking about Fast and Furious is because “the public discourse concerning these issues has become so base and harmful.” The attorney general claims he planned to wait until the inspector general at DOJ concluded an investigation before talking. But, because of comments Gosar made to TheDC earlier in the week, Holder said he’s opening up now.
The comments Gosar made were a suggestion that Obama administration officials responsible for Fast and Furious could be considered accessories to murder. Gosar said they should be held to the same standards as people who don’t work for the government.
“I simply cannot sit idly by as a majority member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform suggests, as happened this week, that law enforcement and government employees who devote their lives to protecting our citizens be considered ‘accessories to murder,’” Holder wrote. “Such irresponsible and inflammatory rhetoric must be repudiated in the strongest possible terms.”
Gosar said that he considers the attorney general’s account of his comments inaccurate and distorted —just like what the congressman says Holder’s testimonies and dealings with Congress on the issue have been all along.
Gosar wants the political decision-makers and people responsible for Operation Fast and Furious held responsible, but isn’t vilifying law enforcement and government employees in general. He commends ATF Mexico attaché Carl Canino, for instance, for testifying and helping with the investigation.
Canino was in Mexico during Fast and Furious, but wasn’t responsible for the operation because he wasn’t informed about what was going on. Gosar adds that Canino’s testimony before the oversight committee shows he was “absolutely mortified” by what happened during Operation Fast and Furious.
“His comments were credible in that he said he lives by the book that outlines ATF duties,” Gosar said. “What they did in Operation Fast and Furious was they threw this book in the grinder.”
Gosar said, as TheDC had originally reported, that he wants the administration officials responsible for this to be held to the same standards as regular, Main Street Americans would be if they did it.
“In Main Street America, you’d never get away with this,” Gosar said. “The people who’ve been responsible would’ve already been in jail. There is something wrong and there is something right. This crossed the threshold of what was wrong.”
Gosar wouldn’t say whether he thinks criminal charges should or will be brought against administration officials for this operation, but compared the scandal to Watergate.
“I think we need to find out all the facts because this is wrong,” Gosar said. “We’ve clearly gone astray. We broke into a hotel and burglarized in Watergate, and those people were held to criminal charges – and they went to jail. How do you define this to the [Border Patrol Agent Brian] Terry family?”
“If those guns hadn’t walked, if those guns had surveillance, if those guns had had tracings, they would’ve known exactly where they were and this wouldn’t have happened – or at least the chance of it would not have happened,” Gosar adds.
It’s unclear if Holder even read TheDC’s account of Gosar’s comments earlier this week before writing that letter. Instead of answering “yes” or “no” when TheDC asked DOJ spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler if Holder read the story, she accused the publication of asking a biased question.
“No bias there in those q’s matthew [Boyle], eh?,” she wrote in an email. When TheDC followed up, she responded that it was “no accusation, just a question” and did not provide an answer to the inquiry.
Schmaler has not responded to subsequent inquiries from TheDC about those facts, or about other facts that continue to cast shadows of doubt on the truthfulness of Holder’s testimony and his Friday night letter.
On Friday, a bipartisan group of ten Arizona sheriffs called for a special investigator and prosecutor for Fast and Furious, and Gosar said he supports their call. CBS News reported late Friday that Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Patrick Leahy will be holding Fast and Furious hearings as well. A spokesperson for Leahy though, said the hearing would just be a general Justice Department oversight hearing, not a Fast and Furious specific hearing.
A spokesperson for ranking member Sen. Chuck Grassley, who’s led the charge with Issa on investigating Operation Fast and Furious, also confirmed that the hearing wouldn’t be Fast and Furious specific.
When TheDC asked why the Vermont Democrat isn’t holding Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on Fast and Furious, Leahy’s spokesperson said a variety of issues can be discussed with Holder at one of the committee’s oversight hearings. “Our oversight hearings afford members the opportunity to ask about whatever issues they choose, and I suspect at the next hearing, that will include Fast and Furious.”