Florida Republican Rep. Allen West told The Daily Caller on Monday that Attorney General Eric Holder’s use of the race card as a way to attack those who are criticizing him is “reprehensible.”
“I think this is absolutely the last card in the deck, and that shows how weak their ground is,” West said in a phone interview. “But, what that means is they want to make white individuals afraid of continuing to put the pressure on Eric Holder because they don’t want to be seen as racist, and that is something that we have got to move beyond.”
Holder had told The New York Times over the weekend, in a front page Sunday story, that he thinks those who are criticizing him have racial motivations to do so. Holder said some unspecified faction — what he refers to as the “more extreme segment” — is driven to criticize both him and President Barack Obama due to the color of their skin. Holder did not appear to elaborate on who he considered to make up the “more extreme segment.” (RELATED: NYT runs ‘Fast and Furious’ factual inaccuracy, favoring Holder)
“This is a way to get at the president because of the way I can be identified with him,” Holder said, according to the Times. “Both due to the nature of our relationship and, you know, the fact that we’re both African-American.” (RELATED: Justice Dept silent as Holder charges critics with racism)
West said Holder can’t logically assign race as a motivation behind the criticisms for his handling of Operation Fast and Furious. “What Fast and Furious has to do with is misleading the Congress and the American people about what you knew about this program, and if you did not know anything about this program, then who’s in charge of the Department of Justice?” West said. “It has nothing to do with your race — it has everything to do with competence, with your character and with your ability to lead the Department of Justice.”
West said Holder’s use of race as a way to attack his critics is “the most insidious thing I ever heard.”
“I grew up in the United States military and it’s not about your color, it’s about your competence, it’s about your abilities to execute a mission,” West said. “If your commanding officer turns heat on you, it’s because you have failed to achieve the mission and I think what we’re doing is we’re looking at something that was a very horrible program — this Operation Fast and Furious.”
West added that the “amount of death that has resulted” from Fast and Furious — “Mexican deaths and also the death of a United States Border Patrol agent” — is unacceptable, and he said “someone has to be held accountable for it.”
West said Holder’s “incompetence” has become a pattern at the DOJ.
“We cannot continue to see the things that we see in the Department of Justice: His comments about voter rights, I mean, showing an ID? That is not Jim Crow, and he should speak out against that,” West said. “His comments as far as the voter intimidation case with the New Black Panther Party, where there was nothing resolved. We continue to see a series of blatant disregard of what is supposed to be the blind eye of justice. So, for the attorney general to now try to use race instead of looking at his inabilities to fulfill his mission, that really is reprehensible to me.”
Holder’s race-based accusations come as resignation calls mount from a growing list of 60 congressmen, two senators, every major Republican presidential candidate and two sitting governors, spurred on by the congressional investigation into Operation Fast and Furious.
Additionally, 75 congressmen have signed onto a House resolution for a vote of “no confidence” in Holder as attorney general. Between the two lists, there are 86 total in the House who no longer trust Holder to head the Department of Justice.
Fast and Furious was a program of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, overseen by Holder’s DOJ. It sent thousands of weapons to Mexican drug cartels via straw purchasers — people who legally purchased guns in the United States with the known intention of illegally trafficking them somewhere else.
At least 300 people in Mexico were killed with Fast and Furious weapons, as was U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry. The identities of the Mexican victims are unknown.
West is one of the congressmen who has signed onto a “no confidence” resolution by Rep. Paul Gosar that called for Holder’s resignation over Fast and Furious. He said that Holder’s recent actions, like playing the race card, indicate to him that Holder is feeling the pressure, as is the White House.
“Of course he’s feeling the pressure,” West said. “And, even more so, the White House is feeling that pressure. … What is the line of last defense? It’s to call the race card.”
The Justice Department has not responded to TheDC’s requests for evidence of racially motivated attacks on Holder. The White House has not responded about whether President Obama stands with Holder on these race-based allegations.