House Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa is demanding that Attorney General Eric Holder provide a new witness for a transcribed interview with Congress about Fast and Furious: The assistant to the Department of Justice official who pled the Fifth Amendment.
Arizona U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division Chief Patrick Cunningham had been subpoenaed to give a deposition to Issa’s committee and was scheduled to do so on Tuesday. Before that day came, though, Cunningham informed the Oversight Committee that he wouldn’t answer questions and would plead the Fifth to avoid admitting he committed a crime during Fast and Furious, the subsequent cover-up, or both.
Now that Cunningham has decided to refuse to cooperate with congressional investigators and is pleading the Fifth, Issa told Holder he wants to talk to the official who reported directly to Cunningham. That official is Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Morrissey.
“Since August, the department has identified Patrick Cunningham as the best person in the U.S. Attorney’s Office to provide information about Fast and Furious to the committee,” Issa wrote in a Wednesday letter to Holder. “The department has refused to make Michael Morrissey and Emory Hurley, both assistant United States attorneys supervised by Mr. Cunningham, available to speak with the committee, citing a policy of not making ‘line attorneys’ available for congressional scrutiny. Mr. Morrissey, however, was Mr. Hurley’s direct supervisor, and an integral part of Fast and Furious. Importantly, both Morrissey and Hurley are unique in their possession of key factual knowledge about Fast and Furious not readily available from any other source.”
Issa gave Holder a deadline of 5 p.m. on Thursday to either provide — or refuse to provide — Morrissey to the Oversight Committee. While this letter is simply a request, not a subpoena, Issa added, “If you choose not to make Mr. Morrissey available, the committee will be forced to use compulsory process to ensure his presence.”
It is unclear if Holder will make Morrissey available, as the DOJ did not immediately respond to a request for comment.