Grassley pushes Holder: New evidence contradicts claim about when AG learned of ‘Fast and Furious’

Matthew Boyle Investigative Reporter
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Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley planned to grill Attorney General Eric Holder Tuesday about new evidence showing that he — or at least his immediate office staff — were aware of the deadly consequences of Operation Fast and Furious far earlier than when Holder has testified he knew.

Grassley’s prepared opening statement for Tuesday’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing explores several new pieces of information in the larger puzzle surrounding the gun-walking scandal, indicating that Holder more than likely misled Congress during a May 3 House Judiciary Committee hearing.

Grassley’s new evidence includes personal briefings Holder’s chief of staff received detailing Operation Fast and Furious. “In March 2010, the Attorney General’s current chief of staff, then the No. 2 individual in the department as the Deputy Attorney General, received a personal briefing on Fast and Furious,” Grassley’s opening statement reads. “The briefing included a presentation detailing the numbers of firearms each straw buyer had purchased up to that point, including 313 by one and 241 by another.”

“The presentation explained that those two straw buyers had spent almost $214,000 and $140,000, respectively, on the weapons,” Grassley continues, adding that “a copy of the Deputy Attorney General’s presentation includes his handwritten notations.”

Grassley also writes that one of those “handwritten notations” the former Deputy Attorney General and current chief of staff to Holder made was “all cash,” which Grassley says is a “typical red flag of straw buying.”

Holder received at least ten different memos about Fast and Furious, Grassley says. “The Justice Department has now produced 10 memos about Operation Fast and Furious received by the Attorney General from March to November 2010, including two he did not reference in his October 7, 2011, letter to Congress.”

During the Tuesday hearing Grassley will likely grill the attorney general about who among his staff reads his memos. Holder has claimed he does not read them personally. Grassley also wants to “hear when the Attorney General learned of the connection between Operation Fast and Furious and the weapons found at the scene of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry’s death.”

“The Attorney General’s then-Deputy Chief of Staff Monty Wilkinson, spoke with U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke about Operation Fast and Furious the very day that Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry died,” Grassley says in his statement. “Did he learn of the connection between Fast and Furious and Agent Terry’s death and bring it to the Attorney General’s attention?  Then-Acting Deputy Attorney General Gary Grindler found out within 48 hours of Agent Terry’s death of the connection to Fast and Furious.”

“Just two weeks after that, the Attorney General announced that Mr. Grindler would be his new Chief of Staff,” Grassley continues. “Did Mr. Grindler bring the connection between Fast and Furious and Agent Terry’s death to the Attorney General’s attention?”

In Holder’s prepared testimony, obtained Monday by The Daily Caller, he continues to claim Operation Fast and Furious was a local initiative led by Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives officials in Phoenix, and that Department of Justice officials in Washington, D.C. were not involved.

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