Contempt citation details documents Holder has refused to give Congress
A contempt of Congress citation targeting Attorney General Eric Holder, which was released on Thursday, details exactly what Operation Fast and Furious-related information he has refused to provide to Congress.
House Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa subpoenaed 22 categories worth of information about Fast and Furious from Holder on Oct. 12, 2011. According to Issa’s contempt of Congress citation draft, he hasn’t provided any documents for 13 out of the 22 categories. In a briefing paper accompanying the Holder contempt citation, Issa said that Holder hasn’t “completely fulfilled any of the 10 categories for which documents have been produced.”
The first listed subpoena category that Holder has not provided any documents on — or denied the existence of any such documents — is one where Issa demanded all communications “between and among Department of Justice (DOJ) employees and Executive Office of the President employees, including but not limited to Associate Communications Director Eric Schultz, referring or relating to Operation Fast and Furious or any other firearms trafficking cases.”
Schultz is the White House communications staffer who “screamed” at CBS News’ Sharyl Attkisson for her reporting on Fast and Furious. “The DOJ woman was just yelling at me,” Attkisson said in a radio appearance in early October 2011. “The guy from the White House on Friday night literally screamed at me and cussed at me. Eric Schultz — oh, the person screaming was Tracy Schmaler. She was yelling, not screaming. And the person who screamed at me was Eric Schultz at the White House.”
The second subpoena category Issa said that Holder has completely defied relates to “communications between DOJ employees and Executive Office of the President employees referring or relating to the president’s March 22, 2011, interview with Jorge Ramos of Univision.”
According to the draft contempt citation regarding this category, the DOJ “represented that it would ‘check on communications with WH Press Office in the time period preceding the president’s 3/22/11 interview,’ and that it had identified the most likely custodians of those documents” but has not provided them to Congress. The contempt citation draft also states that the DOJ has not denied the existence of any such documents. (RELATED: Full coverage of Operation Fast and Furious)
In that interview, President Barack Obama decried Fast and Furious: “There may be a situation here which a serious mistake was made, and if that’s the case then we’ll find out and we’ll hold somebody accountable,” Obama told Ramos. Obama also said during that interview that neither he nor Holder approved Fast and Furious.
South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy and Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz later questioned inconsistencies between Obama’s interview and Holder’s May 3, 2011 House Judiciary Committee testimony. In October 2011, they asked the president to explain how he could factually state that Holder didn’t approve Fast and Furious in March 2011, while Holder had stated in congressional testimony, under oath on May 3, 2011, that he had only learned of Fast and Furious a “few weeks” earlier.
The third listed subpoena category regarded the requirement that the DOJ produce “all documents and communications referring or relating to the murder of Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agent Jaime Zapata.”
The contempt for Holder citation said that the DOJ has not provided any documents and doesn’t deny the existence of documents.
Zapata’s family has publicly stated that they feel like they’ve been “kept in the dark” on developments in the case of their son’s murder. In February 2012, for instance, it was reported in the press that prosecutors had sentenced a second person in relation to Zapata’s murder, but officials never told Zapata’s parents.
The fourth subpoena category that Holder hasn’t provided any documents for is the “Reports of Investigation (ROIs) related to Operation Fast and Furious” or the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives case number “785115-10-0004 [the official Fast and Furious case number].”
According to his contempt citation draft, Holder also hasn’t denied the existence of such documents.
The fifth subpoena category that Holder has refused to provide Issa’s committee with any information or documents relating to is the demand for “[a]ll communications between and among Matt Axelrod, Kenneth Melson, and William Hoover referring or relating to ROIs identified [in the previous suboena section].”
Matt Axelrod is an associate deputy attorney general and works closely with Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer, the head of the DOJ’s criminal division. Melson was the acting ATF director during Fast and Furious and was subsequently promoted into DOJ leadership after the congressional investigation began. Hoover was the regional ATF director who oversaw much of Fast and Furious while it was going on.
According to the contempt of Congress citation, the DOJ has “acknowledged” it understands this part of the subpoena but, nonetheless, it has not provided any documents pursuant to it nor has it denied the existence of such documents.
The sixth category ignored regards the subpoena for “[a]ll communications sent or received between August 7, 2009 and March 19, 2011 between and among former Ambassador to Mexico Carlos Pascual; Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer; and Deputy Assistant Attorney General Bruce Swartz.”
Holder has refused to provide any documents and doesn’t deny the existence of such documents.
Pascual resigned his position as America’s ambassador to Mexico just weeks after Fast and Furious broke in the news in early 2011. WikiLeaks had published some of Pascual’s communications that criticized Mexican President Felipe Calderon’s handling of drug cartel fights. Pascual was on the receiving end of another cable, from U.S. Embassy officials in Mexico, expressing worries about a recent surge in firearms showing up in Mexican drug cartels’ possession. It wasn’t until after the scandal broke — and the congressional investigation was launched — that it was learned that the surge in firearms trafficking was because of Operation Fast and Furious.
The seventh category Holder has refused to provide anything on is the demand for FD-302 forms — which are reports or summaries of interviews that agents conducted — “relating to targets, suspects, defendants, or their associates, bosses, or financiers in the Fast and Furious investigation, including but not limited to any FD-302s ATF Special Agent Hope MacAllister provided to ATF leadership during the calendar year 2011.”
According to the draft of his contempt of Congress citation, Holder has not denied the existence of such documents.
MacCallister was the ATF agent who infamously detained and questioned the main suspect of Operation Fast and Furious, Manuel Celis-Acosta, in May 2010 and then let him go. The Los Angeles Times’ Richard Serrano reported that MacCallister “scribbled her phone number on a $10 bill after he pledged to cooperate and keep in touch with investigators.” After that, Serrano reported that Celis-Acosta “disappeared into Mexico” and “[h]e never called.”
The eighth category Holder has refused to provide Issa’s committee with documents related to is the subpoena demanding “[a]ny investigative reported by the FBI or Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) referring or relating to targets, suspects, or defendants in the Fast and Furious case.”
According to the Holder contempt citation draft, the DOJ “pledged” to try to find these documents even though it was unsure of the amount of documents the subpoena referred to. Even so, the Holder contempt citation states that Holder has not provided any documents related to this subpoena category nor has he denied the existence of such documents.
The ninth subpoena category Holder has defied is one where Issa required him to provide “[a]ny investigative reports by the FBI or DEA relating to the individuals described to committee staff at the October 5, 2011, briefing at Justice Department headquarters as Target Number 1 and Target Number 2.”
It’s unclear exactly what this part of the subpoena is referring to, as it appears this refers to a non-public meeting between Issa’s investigators and DOJ staff. Holder still hasn’t provided any documents relating to this subpoena section either, nor has he denied their existence.
Holder has defied the tenth subpoena category requiring him to provide Issa’s committee with “[a]ll documents and communications in the possession, custody or control of the DEA referring or relating to Manuel Fabian Celis-Acosta,” too.
According to Holder’s contempt of Congress citation draft, the DOJ had agreed it would “start with records regarding information that DEA shared with ATF about Acosta, which we understand to be the focus of your interest in this item,” but has still not provided any documents or denied the existence of such documents.
The eleventh subpoena category Holder has refused to provide Congress with any information on requires Holder to present “[a]ll documents and communications between and among FBI employees in Arizona and the FBI Laboratory, including but not limited to employees in the Firearms/Toolmark Unit, referring or relating to the firearms recovered during the course of the investigation of Brian Terry’s death.”
Holder has not denied the existence of such documents.
The twelfth subpoena category Holder has refused to comply with demands he provide Congress with “[a]ll agendas, meeting notes, meeting minutes, and follow-up reports for the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee of U.S. Attorneys between March 1, 2009 and July 31, 2011, referring or relating to Operation Fast and Furious.”
Holder has not denied the existence of such documents. If he produced them, they would show who in his inner circle of U.S. attorney’s – and potentially Holder himself – knew of Operation Fast and Furious and when each of them knew it.
The final subpoena category that Holder has refused to comply with requires him to provide Congress with “[a]ll surveillance tapes recorded by pole cameras inside the Lone Wolf Trading Co. store between 12:00 a.m. on October 3, 2010 and 12:00 a.m. on October 7, 2010.”
The Lone Wolf Trading Company was one of the stores at which Fast and Furious straw purchasers bought guns that they intended to traffic to Mexico. ATF agents allowed the straw purchasers to traffic the weapons – an illegal activity – without interdicting them.
Even though Holder has defied all these parts of the lawfully issued congressional subpoena, an anonymous Department of Justice representative told CBS News on Thursday that the DOJ thinks it has cooperated with Congress and complied with the investigation: “We’ve done twice-a-month [document] productions since last year, and the attorney general has testified about this matter no less than seven times,” the anonymous DOJ official told CBS news.
Holder spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler hasn’t responded to The Daily Caller’s requests for comment on Holder’s contempt of Congress citation draft.
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