South Carolina Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy told The Daily Caller that he’d be willing to sit down with Attorney General Eric Holder to talk about Operation Fast and Furious, but will not back off his push to obtain the documents Holder has been withholding from Congress.
Gowdy said he’d agree to a meeting out of “southern politeness” but, “at the end of the conversation, I want the documents.”
“I want to know what happened,” he said in a phone interview. “I want to know who knew about it, who approved it, why they’re still in the Department of Justice. So, unless he can answer those questions for me, then other than enjoying a nice cup of coffee or glass of tea, I [don’t see the point in meeting]. I wish he’s going to tell me something other than what I already know, but I’m not sure what would come from a meeting.”
During last week’s House Judiciary Committee hearing, Holder refused a request from Utah Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz to meet with him, Gowdy and two Democrats on the committee — Reps. Bobby Scott and Mike Quigley — to talk more in depth about the scandal.
“With all due respect, I give you four hours at a crack on eight separate occasions,” Holder told Chaffetz before denying the request and again saying that emails containing the phrase “Fast and Furious” did not refer to Operation Fast and Furious. “I’m not sure there’s an awful lot more I have to say.”
Gowdy said Holder’s characterization of the hearings isn’t necessarily accurate. Each member of a committee only gets five minutes to question witnesses during a hearing, and most of the hearings Holder has testified at were for general Department of Justice oversight matters, not just Fast and Furious.
“But, let’s assume it was eight times: Eight times five [minutes per member], I believe, is 40, so that’s 40 minutes — best case scenario — that any one member of Congress would have to ask the attorney general about Fast and Furious,” Gowdy said. “I don’t think asking for more than 40 minutes is too much. Congressman Chaffetz included Congressmen Bobby Scott and Mike Quigley, two Republicans and two Democrats.”
Gowdy said that it “struck” him as “being unprecedented” that the attorney general would “refuse to meet with a bipartisan group of House Judiciary Committee members.” (RELATED: Full coverage of Operation Fast and Furious)
Since that hearing, and Holder’s refusal to meet with Gowdy, Chaffetz, Scott and Quigley, Holder has publicly requested a meeting with House Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa, House Speaker John Boehner and Sen. Chuck Grassley. All three have said they want the documents about Fast and Furious.
Gowdy said that because Holder is seeking a meeting with leadership rather than with the actual investigators or with members really close to the scandal like him, “that tells me that you’re interested in a political resolution.”
“I’m not interested in a negotiation,” Gowdy said. “I’m interested in the documents. If this were political, then I’d say ‘Sure, let’s compromise.’ But, it’s not political to me. It’s about law enforcement, law and order, respect for the rule of law, confidence in the Justice Department — I want the documents.”