Politics
Attorney General Eric Holder announces the formation of the Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities Working Group, Friday, Jan. 27, 2012, during a news conference at the Justice Department in Washington. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen) Attorney General Eric Holder announces the formation of the Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities Working Group, Friday, Jan. 27, 2012, during a news conference at the Justice Department in Washington. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)  

Issa levels ‘cover-up’ accusation, threatens Holder with contempt charge

In a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, House government oversight chairman Rep. Darrell Issa wrote Tuesday that the U.S. Department of Justice has “misrepresented facts and misled Congress.”

Issa set a Feb. 9 deadline for Holder to obey his committee’s Oct. 12, 2011, subpoena, and threatened the attorney general with a contempt of Congress charge if he falls short of “full compliance.”

Issa wrote that Holder and the DOJ are “actively engaged in a cover-up” of activities related to Operation Fast and Furious, a scandal-plagued and ill-fated “gunwalking” program designed to track firearms from U.S. gun shops to drug cartels in Mexico. The operation used “straw purchasers” who purposely — and with government permission — bought guns with the unlawful intention of moving them across the border.

Fast and Furious left more than 2,000 weapons in the hands of Mexican drug gangs, and resulted in the death of 300 Mexican nationals — and one U.S. Border Patrol agent.

“[T]he Department [of Justice] has been irresponsible in failing to take congressional oversight of Fast and Furious seriously,” Issa wrote.

The DOJ released a handful of documents to Issa’s committee on Friday, including an email that Issa believes should have been provided months ago. In it, Anthony P. Garcia, the DOJ Criminal Division’s attaché in Mexico, wrote that Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer “suggested allowed straw purchasers [of weapons] to cross into Mexico so SSP [Mexico's Secretariat of Public Security] can arrest and PGR [Mexicos Office of the General Prosecutor] can prosecute and convict.”

“The fact that the Department just produced this document on Friday,” Issa wrote, “shows the lengths to which you are willing to go to obstruct our investigation and deceive the public.” (RELATED: Complete Operation Fast and Furious coverage)

Issa warned in his letter that the DOJ’s attempt to withhold emails, letters and other documents created after Feb. 4, 2011 would not be tolerated. Holder himself set that cutoff date while testifying before Congress on Dec. 8, 2011.

“If the department continues to obstruct the congressional inquiry by not providing documents and information, this committee will have no alternative but to move forward with proceedings to hold you in contempt of Congress,” Issa wrote.

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