The Department of Justice’s inspector general released its internal investigation into Operation Fast and Furious on Wednesday afternoon, and senior DOJ official Jason Weinstein resigned as it was released.
The 512-page report grills Attorney General Eric Holder and his inner circle at DOJ, and excoriates the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives for Fast and Furious.
House oversight committee chairman Rep. Darrell Issa ripped the DOJ in a statement. “The Inspector General’s report confirms findings by Congress’ investigation of a near total disregard for public safety in Operation Fast and Furious,” Issa said. “Contrary to the denials of the Attorney General and his political defenders in Congress, the investigation found that information in wiretap applications approved by senior Justice Department officials in Washington did contain red flags showing reckless tactics and faults Attorney General Eric Holder’s inner circle for their conduct.”
“Former Deputy Attorney General Gary Grindler, Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer who heads the Criminal Division, Deputy Assistant Attorney General Jason Weinstein, Arizona U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke, and Holder’s own Deputy Chief of Staff Monty Wilkinson are all singled out for criticism in the report,” Issa added. ”It’s time for President Obama to step in and provide accountability for officials at both the Department of Justice and ATF who failed to do their jobs. Attorney General Holder has clearly known about these unacceptable failures yet has failed to take appropriate action for over a year and a half.”
Despite the fact that ATF and the DOJ are blamed for Fast and Furious, House oversight committee Democratic ranking member Rep. Elijah Cummings and Holder issued statements claiming their innocence.
“The IG’s comprehensive report debunks many of the extreme allegations made by Republicans and confirms many of the conclusions reached in a report I issued nearly a year ago—that neither the Attorney General nor senior DOJ officials authorized or approved of gunwalking in Fast and Furious, that gunwalking started under the Bush Administration in 2006, and that ATF agents in Phoenix and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Arizona share responsibility for misguided operations spanning five years,” Cummings said. “Although the report does not find that DOJ intentionally misled Congress, it does find that the Department could have done a better job responding to requests for information, particularly after determining that the weapons found at the scene at Agent Terry’s murder were linked to the operation. I hope this report provides the Terry family with much-needed answers and that Congress can now turn the page and focus on reforms to help ensure that this never happens again.”
“I have reviewed the Office of the Inspector General’s report on Operation Fast and Furious and the key conclusions are consistent with what I, and other Justice Department officials, have said for many months now,” Holder added in a lengthy statement.
In a statement announcing his resignation, Weinstein accuses the inspector general of wrongly identifying him as a high-ranking DOJ official responsible for Fast and Furious “[f]or reasons that are completely incomprehensible to me, and are based on considerations other than the evidence.”
“Nothing could be further from the truth,” Weinstein said. “In fact, I was the person who blew the whistle that gun-walking had taken place years earlier in the Operation Wide Receiver investigation and, on that basis, delivered a warning to high-ranking officials at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) that such tactics were unacceptable. Against that background, the suggestion that I was insufficiently aggressive in ferreting out the truth about Fast and Furious is based on a complete distortion of the facts and reflects the application of perfect hindsight, as connections that were all too easily made by OIG investigators after the fact simply could not have been made by me or anyone else at Main Justice as the events were unfolding.”
Even so, Weinstein said he’s resigning to try to stop Fast and Furious, and his role in it, from remaining an “enormous distraction for the Criminal Division and Main Justice as a whole.”
Former acting ATF director Kenneth Melson — who Holder promoted into senior DOJ leadership after Fast and Furious first broke in the mainstream news – has resigned as a result of this report as well.