A CNN reporter asked several congressmen on Tuesday why they think Attorney General Eric Holder should resign now instead of waiting for a long-overdue inspector general report on Operation Fast and Furious.
“My question is, why now?” the CNN reporter asked the near-dozen members of Congress on stage demanding Holder resign immediately. “Why not wait until the inspector general report comes out?”
The CNN reporter’s question came at Tuesday’s press conference where several members of Congress demanding Holder’s immediate resignation over Operation Fast and Furious amplified their calls.
Before other members explained the serious ineptitudes the inspector general has exhibited, Florida Republican Rep. Allen West of Florida joked, pulling a line out of the Obama administration’s new rhetoric book, “We can’t wait!” (UPDATE: 43 members of Congress now calling for Eric Holder’s resignation)
Arizona Republican Rep. Trent Franks said that throughout the course of the congressional investigation, Holder has stonewalled investigators and it’s time for someone new to lead the Justice Department. “The idea of ‘we’re going to wait for a subpoena, then we’re going to send you some of the documents, we’re going to withhold some others, tell us exactly what you want — if you find it first, then we’ll tell you if we have it,” Franks said. “It’s something they continue to do, stringing along, and with all this — keep this in mind — the guns are still out there. The guns are still being used for crimes.”
DOJ Inspector General Cynthia Schnedar has not signaled at all when she plans to provide a report on the subject, but a CNN.com story stated that it “may be concluded before the end of the year.” It’s unclear where CNN got that information, or if it’s pure speculation.
Congressional Fast and Furious investigators have also cast significant doubt on whether Schnedar’s forthcoming report — whenever it comes out — can be at all objective or factual. Schnedar had, according to congressional investigators, handed audio recordings pertinent to the investigation over to subjects without even listening to them.
“Each of these disclosures undermines our ability to assess the candor of witnesses in our investigation and thus obstructs it,” House oversight committee chairman Rep. Darrell Issa and Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley wrote in a recent letter to Schnedar. “Moreover, your decision to immediately disclose the recordings to those you are investigating creates at least the appearance, if not more, that your inquiry is not sufficiently objective and independent.”
CNN made no mention of the allegations about Schedar’s inability to fairly investigate Fast and Furious in its story.
Arizona Republican Rep. Paul Gosar, the congressman who organized Tuesday’s press conference, told TheDC that the Schnedar can’t be trusted because she is “beholden to the administration.”
“We want to make sure that’s independent and that we do our job as well,” Gosar said in an interview. “Plus, I’ll also tell you, when you start to see the whistleblowers who were implicated in the U.S. Attorney’s office [leak] – they’re afraid for themselves because of the retaliation that’s occurring from within this administration.”
The CNN reporter also asked, incorrectly, why the GOP lawmakers don’t wait to make their calls until after Holder appears before “Issa’s committee” in December. The reporter was referring to the House oversight committee, which Rep. Darrell Issa chairs. Holder will not be appearing before “Issa’s committee,” on Dec. 8. He will, however, be appearing before the House Judiciary Committee, which Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas chairs. Issa also sits on the Judiciary Committee, something that may have confused the CNN reporter.
CNN spokespeople did not return TheDC’s requests for comment, and did not answer whether they’ll correct their reporter’s factually incorrect statements.
This story has been updated.