Politics
FILE (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File) FILE (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File)  

Former Clinton admin. special counsel: Why isn’t the WH defending Holder?

Photo of Matthew Boyle
Matthew Boyle
Investigative Reporter

Democratic lawyer–lobbyist Lanny Davis, who served as a special counsel to former President Bill Clinton, told The Daily Caller that he thinks the calls for Attorney General Eric Holder’s resignation over Operation Fast and Furious are “ludicrous and partisan.”

But he added that it’s a mystery why the White House and President Barack Obama are not actively defending Holder from congressional demands that he step down.

Obama had originally said he stands by his attorney general, but now the White House and the president aren’t talking about the surge in calls for Holder’s resignation. Fifty-two congressmen, two senators, four presidential candidates and two sitting governors have said Holder should resign immediately in the wake of the gun-walking scandal.

Operation Fast and Furious was a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives program, overseen by the Justice Department, which facilitated the sale of thousands of weapons to Mexican drug cartels via straw purchasers. Straw purchasers are people who can legally purchase guns in the United States but do so with the intention of illegally trafficking them into Mexico.

At least 300 people in Mexico were killed with Fast and Furious weapons, as was U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry.

The White House has denied that Obama himself knew about Fast and Furious. Davis told TheDC he thinks the Obama administration should be actively defending Holder as well.

“I cannot understand why the White House has not been 100 percent transparent and aggressive on this issue,” Davis said in a phone interview. “They refer questions to the Justice Department, which is only the first step. The second step is they should be answering all reporters’ questions too and making the point I’m making very aggressively.”

Davis accused Republicans of playing politics with the Justice Department, holding Holder to a different standard than they would a GOP attorney general.

“I don’t recall any Republican calling for the resignation of Attorneys General Alberto Gonzales or Michael Mukasey, both of whom presided over the same ATF abusive gun walking program,” Davis said. “That is a public fact. Of course, it is ludicrous and partisan to ask Mr. Holder to resign when he himself has denounced this program and called for an investigation.”

Davis was referring to Operation Wide Receiver, the Bush administration program that bore some similarities to Operation Fast and Furious. But key differences distinguished the two programs. (RELATED: The Daily Caller’s complete Fast and Furious coverage)

The Bush administration allowed far fewer firearms to cross the border into Mexico, and worked with the Mexican government and Mexican law enforcement officials. The Obama administration allowed about 2,000 weapons to reach drug cartels; the Bush administration program limited the firearms involved to about one-tenth that number.

“Look, there are lots of distinctions that I’m sure can be made, but … the focus is on whether Eric Holder has done something so wrong that he should resign,” Davis said. “And, the answer is ‘no.’”

“It was clearly a mistake, it occurred on his watch, but the same can be said for Attorney General Gonzales and Attorney General Mukasey. I wouldn’t have supported resignation for them, and I don’t support resignation for Mr. Holder.”