Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley, the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, challenged Attorney General Eric Holder on Thursday to produce evidence to support his allegation that former Attorney General Michael Mukasey knew of gunwalking during the George W. Bush administration.
During this week’s Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing, Holder charged that Mukasey got briefed on gunwalking tactics in Operation Wide Receiver.
“An attorney general who I suppose you would hold in higher regard was briefed on these kinds of tactics in an operation called Wide Receiver and did nothing to stop them — nothing,” Holder told Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn. “Three hundred guns, at least, walked in that instance.”
In a Thursday statement, Grassley said Holder’s comments represent a “serious charge.”
“The problem is, we have absolutely zero evidence that it’s true,” Grassley said.
“Nothing in the documents produced by the Justice Department and no information provided by any whistle-blowers that I know of suggests that Attorney General Mukasey was ever briefed about Wide Receiver. Period,” Grassley added. “If Attorney General Holder made that kind of a charge about Attorney General Mukasey to this committee without any evidence to back it up, that would be an outrage.”
In a letter to Holder, Grassley asked the attorney general to provide the Senate Judiciary Committee with evidence to support the charge before the official record for this week’s hearing closes next week — or issue an apology to Mukasey.
“If he can’t produce evidence that Attorney General Mukasey was briefed on Wide Receiver, then he owes Mr. Mukasey an apology,” Grassley said. “It appears to be an effort to shift blame away from himself, but I’m willing to hear his explanation.”
Holder spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler did not respond to The Daily Caller’s request for comment on whether Holder has such evidence, if he’ll provide it to the Senate Judiciary Committee, and if does not or will not, if he’ll apologize to Mukasey.
Grassley said that the “highest-ranking Justice Department official” he’s “aware of who knew about gunwalking in Wide Receiver is not Attorney General Mukasey. It is Lanny Breuer.”
“Breuer did nothing to stop ATF from walking guns after learning about it in April 2010,” Grassley said. “That is why I called on him to resign. The evidence shows he and his deputies did not focus on making sure ATF never did it again. Instead, emails indicate they discussed how to help ATF be prepared to minimize the potential embarrassment over gunwalking in the press.”
“If Attorney General Holder wants to criticize senior department officials who knew about gunwalking and did nothing, he should start with the current head of his own Criminal Division, Lanny Breuer,” Grassley added.
Grassley has not joined his U.S. Senate colleagues and the 129 House members in demanding Holder’s resignation over Operation Fast and Furious, but said that he has come close to doing so. During an interview with the Fox News Channel’s Greta Van Susteren on Tuesday evening, when asked if he backed Sen. John Cornyn’s call for Holder to resign, Grassley said he would have if Holder didn’t offer to provide more Fast and Furious documents.
“If you asked me a few hours ago I probably would have said yes,” Grassley said. “I am open to his so-called negotiation.”