Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley, the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said Thursday afternoon that White House press secretary Jay Carney’s statement that the administration has “provided Congress every document that pertains to the operation itself” is “hogwash.”
“Through my investigation, I know there are reams of documents related to ‘the operation itself’ that the Justice Department has refused to turn over to Congress,” Grassley said. “For example, the earliest known Fast and Furious briefing paper was sent to ATF [Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives] leadership on December 2, 2009. The attorney general promised last summer that the Justice Department would send us all of the briefing papers. However, the Justice Department never provided what is arguably the most important one. The assertion that the administration has given Congress every document related to Fast and Furious is just inaccurate.”
Grassley also said that Carney mischaracterized comments he’s made before: “Republican members of Congress, to try to score political points — as Senator Grassley referred to his desire for a political ‘scalp’ — that is separate from trying to find out the truth about what happened in this operation, which this administration has been pursuing since the attorney general discovered it,” Carney said during Thursday’s press briefing.
“The accusation that I’m motivated by a desire for a ‘political scalp’ is baseless,” Grassley said in a statement. “Yes, I want the responsible people held accountable. An American agent died because of government policy and practice, and that can’t go unanswered. Whenever the government does damage, credibility demands telling the full story and taking appropriate action. Inaction erodes trust in government.”
It appears that Carney took a recent Grassley comment out of context to portray him as politically motivated. During an interview with the Fox News Channel’s Greta Van Susteren a little more than a week ago, Grassley said he wanted “somebody’s scalp” over Fast and Furious — the “person who approved this.”
“If my approach to congressional oversight were dictated by political gain, I wouldn’t have voted to subpoena records from [former Attorney General] Alberto Gonzales and the [George W.] Bush Justice Department over the firing of U.S. attorneys,” Grassley said in his statement responding to Carney’s attacks. “I wouldn’t have voted to hold Bush White House officials in contempt in the same matter. I wouldn’t have voted to authorize subpoenas for documents on warrantless surveillance sought by the Democratic chairman of the Judiciary Committee. These weren’t popular moves with my fellow Republicans, but I thought they were right. I’m committed to Congress’ constitutional responsibility of oversight regardless of which party is in the White House. Congress has the authority as elected representatives of the people to get the facts to inform our legislative duties under the Constitution. Any administration of any party should respect that.”