BALTIMORE, Md. — During a House GOP retreat in Baltimore on Friday, press secretaries for Speaker of the House John Boehner and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor balked when asked if their bosses believe Attorney General Eric Holder should resign over Operation Fast and Furious.
Sixty-three congressmen, two senators, two sitting governors and every major Republican presidential candidate have demanded Holder’s ouster over the resulting scandal. And 89 congressmen have signed a House resolution of “no confidence” in Holder as the nation’s top law enforcement officer. Between the two lists, which don’t perfectly overlap, 101 members of the House have “no confidence” in Holder, believe he should resign or both.
Though that number — 101 Congressmen — is nearly half of the 242-member Republican caucus in the House, and the surge continues to grow, the press secretaries for Boehner and Cantor refused to answer the question.
Boehner spokesman Michael Steel has ignored emails on the subject for months, but when TheDC caught up with him at the retreat and again asked if his boss thinks Holder should resign for the gunrunning operation that killed U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry and at least 300 Mexican civilians, Steel replied, “I don’t think he has said anything on that.”
TheDC followed up with Steel in the lobby of the Waterfront Marriott and asked him if he’d just ask Boehner the question. “Yeah, maybe,” Steel replied.
As of 5 p.m. on Sunday, Steel still hasn’t answered whether Boehner agrees with the 101 members in the House GOP caucus about Holder. Instead, Steel said, “The speaker appreciates the hard work that Chairman Issa and many others have done to expose this scandal. President Obama’s Department of Justice needs to be accountable.”
Cantor’s press secretary, Laena Fallon, deflected questions in a similar way, telling TheDC that Cantor “doesn’t sign onto legislation, as a rule, as majority leader”
Fallon was referencing House Resolution 490, the bill that expresses “no confidence” in Holder because of Fast and Furious. When asked if Cantor agreed “with the concept,” Fallon replied, “I don’t know.”
TheDC: Can you ask him for me?
FALLON: I’ll see, he’s in meetings.
TheDC: I can take an answer whenever. It’s just a “yes” or “no.”
FALLON: I’ll ask and see if I can get you something, but I don’t know what he’ll say.”
By Sunday at 5 p.m., Fallon has still not responded.
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 Border Patrol agent Brian Terry. The identities of the Mexican victims are unknown. Allegations have surfaced that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent Jaime Zapata was also killed with Fast and Furious weapons.