Attorney General Eric Holder’s service in the Obama administration may be coming to an end. Thirty members of Congress are now calling for Holder’s immediate resignation — a number that grows larger every day.
Florida Republican Rep. Connie Mack became the latest congressman to demand that Holder step down, telling The Daily Caller late on Tuesday that “Eric Holder should resign Fast and Furiously!”
Mack is a high-profile political figure who entered Florida’s Republican primary for Senate last week. Mack’s decision to call for Holder to resign appears to signal that it’s politically popular.
Also, Mack’s wife, California Republican Rep. Mary Bono Mack, previously told the TheDC that she’s deeply concerned about Holder’s behavior throughout the investigation into Operation Fast and Furious.
“Congresswoman Bono Mack is deeply concerned about ‘Fast and Furious’ and certainly a resignation is not out of the question,” her spokesman Cort Bush told TheDC earlier this week.
The Justice Department and President Barack Obama’s White House haven’t answered any of TheDC’s requests for comment about the growing contingent of congressmen calling for Holder to immediately remove himself from office. (RELATED: Sen. Feinstein: Lax gun control is real ‘problem’ with Fast and Furious)
The administration’s continued failure to defend Holder suggests that the president may be keeping the door open to pushing Holder out of office to prevent the scandal from seeping into campaign season.
Three presidential candidates — Rep. Michele Bachmann, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney — have made, in one form or another, a call for Holder’s resignation.
Although only Republicans have called for Holder to resign thus far, one Democrat told TheDC that he wants the investigation to plow forward and figure out what Holder knew and when he knew it.
“There needs to be much more investigation by the Administration and/or Congress on how this program started and what if any oversight by the Attorney General,” Texas Democratic Rep. Gene Green told TheDC. “It is absolutely critical that our nation’s leading officials be honest in their testimony before Congress. I hope the Justice Department and Congress will continue to look into these very serious charges to uphold the integrity of our system.”
The continued congressional pressure on Holder comes as the Attorney General’s top deputy, Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer, testified before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Tuesday. At the hearing, ranking Republican member Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa pushed Breuer on his recent claims that he was responsible — at least partially — for not informing Holder that gun walking tactics were used during the Operation Fast and Furious.
Gun-walking is when the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives allows straw purchasers to take guns across the border without stopping them, even when law enforcement agents have the chance to do so. Straw purchasers are people who can legally purchase weapons in the United States but do so with the known intention of trafficking them into Mexico.
In a late Monday night document dump that appears to have been an attempt to shield Holder from more public pressure, Breuer admitted that he knew gun-walking occurred during Operation Wide Receiver — a Bush administration program from 2006 and 2007 that employed similar, but more subtle tactics.
Grassley pressured Breuer into admitting that a statement in a letter the DOJ sent him on Feb. 4, 2011, was not true. “ATF makes every effort to interdict weapons that have been purchased illegally and prevent their transportation to Mexico,” the letter from the DOJ to Grassley said.
After reading it aloud during the hearing, Grassley turned to Breuer and said: “That statement is absolutely false and you admitted as much last night that you knew by April of 2010 that ATF walked guns in Operation Fast and Furious. That’s correct, yes?”
“Yes, senator,” Breuer replied.
Breuer technically didn’t admit that the DOJ lied there in the letter because, when Grassley followed up asking him if he reviewed the letter before it was sent, Breuer equivocated. “In direct answer to your question, senator, I cannot say for sure whether I saw a draft of the letter that was sent to you,” Breuer said. “What I can tell you is at that time I was in Mexico dealing with the very real issues that we’re all so committed to.”
During that same hearing, Breuer and California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein tried to blame what they consider lax gun laws for Operation Fast and Furious’ failures, even though it was the law enforcement agents responsible for enforcing gun laws who were selling guns to Mexican drug cartels. Feinstein’s communications staff has continued to refuse to answer whether the senator, who is up for re-election in 2012, believes that Obama administration officials responsible for Operation Fast and Furious need to be held accountable.
Rep. Mack, the latest to call for Holder’s resignation, serves on the House oversight committee, which has spearheaded the congressional investigation into the scandal. Another member of the committee who hasn’t yet called for Holder’s resignation, Rep. Tim Walberg of Michigan, is waiting until after Holder testifies on December 8.
“There are apparent inconsistencies in Attorney General Holder’s testimony before Congress and the facts, and Representative Walberg does not believe Mr. Holder and the Department of Justice has taken the investigation of this matter seriously,” Walberg’s spokeswoman Sarah Kuziomko told TheDC. “Attorney General Holder will be testifying before the House Judiciary Committee on December 8 and Representative Walberg hopes he uses that opportunity to explain his misleading statements and clarify who it is that authorized ‘Fast and Furious.’”
Florida Republican Rep. Bill Posey’s spokesman also told TheDC he’s “very concerned about what he has seen to date regarding fast and furious.”
“Executive Branch officials are obligated to tell the truth when testifying under oath before the Legislative Branch,” Posey’s spokesman said in an email. “If that turns out not to have been the case with any official, including Mr. Holder, then they should resign their office. Rep. Posey is following the House Oversight Committee’s investigation and would like it to have the time to finish so all those involved are held accountable.”
Previous members who’ve called for Holder’s immediate resignation include: Former House oversight committee chairman Rep. Dan Burton, House Transportation Committee chairman Rep. John Mica, House Small Business Committee chairman Rep. Sam Graves and Reps. Ted Poe, Blake Farenthold, Louie Gohmert, Quico Canseco, Rodney Alexander, Paul Gosar, Allen West, Tim Huelskamp, Mike Pompeo, Duncan Hunter, Devin Nunes, Dennis Ross, Trent Franks, Lynn Jenkins, Raul Labrador, Joe Walsh, Gus Bilirakis, Paul Broun, Randy Hultgren, Stephen Fincher, John Culberson, Michael Grimm, Andy Harris, Mike Coffman and Vicky Hartzler.