Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus told The Daily Caller on Monday that Obama administration cabinet officials’ unwillingness to talk to Attorney General Eric Holder about Operation Fast and Furious is like an “air of indictment.”
When TheDC asked Priebus to comment on Holder’s admission that he isn’t discussing Fast and Furious with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama –with the exception of minor mentions of the scandal in passing with Obama — Priebus said it’s “bizarre.”
“One of the things I took from the column and the report that he hadn’t talked to either secretary, and I guess in passing but nothing substantial with the president,” Priebus said, referencing a Monday morning Daily Caller article.
“He said something in that report,” said Priebus. “He said that people kind of clam up when you have situations like this, where there are problems. In a way he’s sort of admitting that we’ve got something very serious here, that’s very tricky politically, and people don’t want to touch it. It’s sort of like someone’s under the air of indictment; suddenly your friends go away. He’s sort of admitting that my friends don’t want to talk to me because this is a real problem.”
Priebus said the idea that Holder’s colleagues are avoiding him should strike a certain tone with Americans: Fast and Furious is “on a very perilous track, and Holder is in the middle of it.”
“The attorney general is held to a little bit of a higher standard, the attorney general is expected to have things buttoned up, expected to have things on track, well organized, understand where everything’s at,” Priebus said. “People expect that office to be very, very prepared, organized and understand what’s going on around them. I mean it’s really disconcerting to have an attorney general who on the one hand claims that he didn’t know one thing about the Fast and Furious project, of course after the ATF chief said the same thing, and actually issue that report under oath to Congress, and then come back and say well maybe that was inaccurate. And then we find out there were not only email briefings, but actual briefings to the ATF chief and Eric Holder.”
As the two lists don’t perfectly overlap, 103 members of the House have called for Holder’s resignation, signed an official resolution of “no confidence” in Holder or both. Three U.S. senators, two sitting governors and all major Republican presidential candidates have called for Holder’s resignation or firing too. Priebus and the RNC have joined them. Even so, the issue has gotten little play on the presidential debate stage and on the campaign trail. Save for one Fox News debate, Fast and Furious hasn’t come up at all during GOP candidate debates.
Priebus thinks that will change moving forward, though, as voters get closer to picking a GOP candidate.
“I think it will be brought up,” Priebus told TheDC. “I think the campaign will get, will be focused on this issue, at least in part, I think it’s just a continuation of this sort of incompetence level that this president has shown in so many areas, and one has been border security, and actually this issue of Eric Holder just not being up to the job.”
“Certainly the RNC has been focused in on it, quite a bit,” Priebus added. “Both through Web videos, commercials that we’ve run, a website that we’ve put together calling for Eric Holder’s either resignation or him being fired, a petition to that effect. So we’ve shown our hand, as the RNC, that this is an important issue, and I think it should be for all Americans. I mean, people have died, people have lied under oath to Congress, and of all things it’s the AG’s office. It’s just lying is bad for everybody, I just think its especially unique, and brings incompetency and arrogance to a whole new level when it’s the Attorney General of the United States.”
Priebus expects elected officials to continue to “slowly build” pressure on Holder and push for accountability and transparency — something Holder arguably hasn’t provided.
There are tens of thousands of pages of documents that Holder has given to the DOJ’s Inspector General for the internal administration investigation that he has refused to provide to Congress despite lawfully issued subpoenas that have been served to him. And, though Holder claims there have been “personnel changes” in the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Justice Department, nobody has been fired and Holder has admitted he doesn’t plan to fire anybody.
“I don’t think Darrell Issa is backing off one bit,” Priebus observed. “I think it’s because he knows and sees things and he’s been able to put the dots together, maybe even better than some of us because he’s got that information firsthand. But I don’t think this is going to let up. I think that this story is going to keep moving forward not because it’s good politics, but because it is an affront to this country. It’s an affront to, number one, securing our border, number two, being honest as Americans to Congress. And it’s also an affront that we have incompetence at levels in this country that we should not tolerate as Americans so I don’t think this is going away.”