Republican presidential candidate and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman told The Daily Caller on Tuesday that he thinks Attorney General Eric Holder should resign immediately.
Huntsman warned that Holder’s resignation shouldn’t be the end of investigations into Operation Fast and Furious and gun walking, but would go a long way in restoring the American people’s trust in the Department of Justice.
“Related to Mr. Holder specifically, some may say we should reserve judgment on the attorney general’s fate until the various investigations are completed,” Huntsman told TheDC. “At this juncture, however, we also need to worry about the damage already done, and the growing loss of trust and confidence among the American people in the leadership of our Justice Department. I have come to the conclusion the trust deficit may be irreparable absent a change of leaders, and therefore President Obama should ask for Mr. Holder’s resignation.”
Huntsman warned that United States-Mexico relations, specifically law enforcement relationships, may be in jeopardy as a result of this program. Mexico Attorney General Marisela Morales has publicly stated that Holder and the Obama administration continue to refuse to provide her with the details of what happened in Operation Fast and Furious — a sign that the administration has kept a neighboring ally in the dark for years on this front, even throughout the aftermath of the program.
Huntsman told TheDC he wants to strengthen the relationships Mexican and U.S. law enforcement agencies have together. “We will not see success in the efforts to combat narco-criminal activity, nor curb the flow of drugs into the United States, without stronger U.S.-Mexican cooperation,” Huntsman said. “Cooperation begins with regaining trust and confidence, and therefore our first order of business should be to fully brief Mexican authorities on Operation Fast and Furious.”
“Second, as we did in the case of Plan Colombia, we should be more aggressive in our approach to capacity building in Mexico to deal with these problems inside the country of Mexico,” he added. “This entails more training and assistance to the Mexican military and law enforcement, more intelligence sharing, and greater involvement of regional actors who share our concerns.”
To prevent things like Operation Fast and Furious from happening again, Huntsman said the next president of the United States “must say, ‘Not on my watch.’”
“Strong leadership that articulates the expectations from the very top of our government would go a long way in preventing a tragic mistake of this nature in the future,” Huntsman told TheDC.
Huntsman added that he’d “instruct” his “attorney general that a core part of his or her responsibilities is to conduct internal oversight of sensitive operations.”
“We cannot have a future attorney general go before the Congress and claim to be out of the loop,” Huntsman said. “And third, we must improve cooperation with the Mexican government so that the quality of our intelligence gathering and information sharing negates the need for the ill-conceived schemes such as Fast and Furious.”
Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney have each made somewhat veiled calls for Holder’s resignation. Businessman Herman Cain said he backs the members of Congress pushing for Holder to step down.
Texas Rep. Ron Paul and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich have not responded to requests from TheDC regarding where they stand on the issue. Romney’s campaign has refused to answer whether he thinks Holder should resign immediately. Santorum’s campaign hasn’t answered follow-up questions.
The Republican presidential candidates will be discussing foreign policy on Tuesday evening in a Heritage Foundation and American Enterprise Institute debate broadcast on CNN.