Issa staffer: Gunrunner investigation points much higher than ATF director

Matthew Boyle Investigative Reporter
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A spokesman for House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa told The Daily Caller the congressman expects his investigations into the Justice Department’s gun walking programs to point to a much higher political appointee than acting ATF director Kenneth Melson.

Melson is widely expected to resign some time in the next couple of days in the face of political pressure from Issa’s investigations into Project Gunrunner and Operation Fast Furious.

Even if Melson resigns, Issa spokesman Frederick Hill said the Committee expects to find much more and continue with investigations.

“The investigations are far from over,” Hill told TheDC. “It’s quite certain that Kenneth Melson was not the principal architect of this plan nor was he the only high-ranking official who knew about and authorized this operation.” (WHAT DID THEY KNOW? Top two ATF officials ‘briefed weekly’ on ‘Fast and Furious’)

Project Gunrunner and Operation Fast and Furious were programs that involved ATF officials allowing guns to be taken into Mexico with the ultimate apparent goal of tracking the larger Mexican drug cartels’ arms market.

The ATF officials allowed the sale of guns to “straw purchasers,” or people who were eligible to purchase guns in the U.S. but were doing so with the known intention of trafficking them into Mexico.

This latest development comes after Issa told Fox News on Tuesday morning that he thinks Melson should resign.

“He was part of the bad judgment. And when I say bad judgment, it wasn’t just him,” Issa said on Fox News. “They had to go to Justice to get money, to get FBI agents, all of the other people that helped coordinate this, and to get the wiretaps they used. This was a program so stupid from the start.”

Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton told TheDC a Melson resignation “would be seen as an admission that something went terribly wrong.” Fitton thinks Project Gunrunner and Operation Fast and Furious were political ploys from the Obama administration, not real law enforcement efforts.

“It would be significant for a senior official to resign over a Congressional investigation,” Fitton said, adding that he’s almost certain Project Gunrunner and Operation Fast and Furious were anti-gun agenda political ploys from the Obama administration.

“I think another major part of this story is that the narrative of the Obama administration and the ATF is that, ‘wouldn’t it be great if we could tie guns, as part of our anti-gun agenda, to the Mexican civil war, as opposed to, you know, our lack of enforcement of the drug laws or failure to protect the borders,’” he said.

Former El Paso Intelligence Center (EPIC) director Phil Jordan said he thinks this scandal goes as high as Attorney General Eric Holder. From his decades of law enforcement experience working with Washington-based Justice Department officials, Jordan said he’s sure this kind of program would have needed approval from either the Attorney General or one of his direct deputies.