Idaho Republican Rep. Raul Labrador, one of the first congressmen to call for Attorney General Eric Holder’s immediate resignation, told The Daily Caller that Bush administration Attorney General Alberto Gonzales didn’t do half as much as what Holder has done to warrant calls for his resignation.
Gonzales faced a rising tide of calls for his resignation in 2007 after dismissing several U.S. Attorneys. Gonzales’ critics argued his decisions were politically motivated. He ultimately did resign after congressional calls mounted for him to do so.
“I can tell you that I don’t know that there were any allegations that he lied to Congress, and I think that’s really the bottom line,” Labrador said in an interview last Friday. “You can do a lot of things in your job — you can do a lot of things that I disagree with — and he has done a lot things I disagree with. But, when he comes to Congress and he doesn’t tell the truth, I think that goes to level of becoming a fire-able offense.”
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Labrador called for Holder’s resignation in early October, weeks before the list of congressmen calling for it started to grow exponentially. Labrador told TheDC that what made him call for Holder’s resignation was his May 3 testimony before the House Judiciary Committee — testimony that Labrador considers either intentionally or unintentionally disingenuous.
There are now 36 members of Congress calling for Holder’s resignation effective immediately.
“He had a duty and a responsibility when he came to Congress to prepare for the questions that were going to be asked — and he knew that Fast and Furious was an important topic that he was going to be asked questions about,” Labrador said. “And, he was either ill-prepared, so what I call grossly incompetent in his job, or he willfully failed to look at the information because he wanted some plausible deniability when he was asked questions.”
“And, as you know, when he was asked, he wasn’t asked the question once — he was asked the question twice by two different Congressmen,” he added. “On both occasions, he did not tell the truth.”
Labrador said his constituents often tell him to “keep fighting” for answers on Fast and Furious, something that signals to him that the American people generally want Holder removed from office and want him held accountable for Operation Fast and Furious.
Labrador said he’s tried to be as understanding as anyone can be with Holder, but that he continues to be disingenuous, with investigators’ requests being met with stonewalling. “To me, it’s understandable, and I’ve tried to be as reasonable as possible with this, it’s understandable that a person who’s the Attorney General of the United States has a bunch of memos that come across his desk and that he wouldn’t remember those memos,” Labrador said. “I have no problem with him not remembering the memos.”
Holder testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, but failed to provide substantive answers to many of the questions he’s left lingering for months. A spokesperson for Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn told TheDC that Holder continues to leave questions unanswered. “Unfortunately, we are seeing a pattern with Attorney General Holder: every time he attempts to provide answers, he raises more questions,” Cornyn’s spokesperson said in an email. “Sen. Cornyn will continue to press the Attorney General for answers on this deadly program.”
Holder refused to apologize to murdered Border Patrol agent Brian Terry’s family because, at least according to him, Fast and Furious didn’t “directly” cause Terry’s death — so that doesn’t make the DOJ responsible for it.
Holder also wouldn’t answer questions about who was being held accountable for leaking documents intended to smear ATF whistle-blowers and he admitted his May 3 testimony before the House Judiciary Committee — the same testimony Labrador says is the reason he’s calling for Holder’s immediate resignation — wasn’t truthful.
Holder’s story has changed multiple times throughout the congressional investigation. Now, since he’s been forced to point to an example of who he held accountable for Operation Fast and Furious, Holder said the resignation of Arizona’s now former U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke and the reassignment — some would argue promotion — of now former acting ATF director Ken Melson were punishments for Fast and Furious. When they happened, though, Holder praised both of them for their service and commended their careers.
Labrador said Holder has a history of misleading Congress and the American people — and he’s always gotten away with it.
“If you look at the history of Eric Holder, he has a history of coming to Congress and not being completely truthful,” Labrador told TheDC. “He did it before he was an Attorney General, he did it when he was asked about some dealings in the Bill Clinton administration — and he just gets away with not telling the truth and just saying that ‘I don’t remember.’”
Labrador said it’s time for Holder to be held accountable for his statements — whether they’re lies or examples of blatant incompetency.
“Well, you know, that’s okay, he doesn’t remember, he might not be really great at his job, but he doesn’t deserve to be the Attorney General of the United States,” Labrador said. “We need somebody who takes these matters seriously. The bottom line is that we have one Border Patrol agent who died because of this botched program, we have at least one person who was working in Mexico for the U.S. government who died or was injured because of this program and we have numerous Mexicans who died because of these guns and this is something that needs to be taken seriously.”
Holder is scheduled to testify before a joint House oversight committee and House Judiciary Committee hearing on December 8 and Labrador said “he’s going to have to explain exactly why he didn’t tell the truth in the [House] Judiciary Committee [on May 3].”
Democrats in Congress, especially California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, have used Operation Fast and Furious as a platform to advocate for stricter gun control laws. Labrador thinks those advocating for such measures haven’t followed the details of the case.
“I don’t see how logically you can say that gun store owners who knew that they shouldn’t be selling these guns to these people, who warned the ATF that we shouldn’t be doing this, that gun control laws would have prevented this,” he said. “It just doesn’t make any sense, because the store owners understood that this was a botched operation and they kept warning the ATF. And, it was the ATF — the ones who enforce gun laws — who were forcing them to do these things that they didn’t want to do.”
The worst part of Operation Fast and Furious, at least according to Labrador, is that not all the guns sold to drug cartels have been accounted for. He said we can expect to find these weapons at crime scenes — like the one Terry was murdered at — for years to come.
“[The Fast and Furious guns] are not all accounted for, and I think that’s the saddest thing about this case,” Labrador said. “It wasn’t just the ATF agents — gun shop owners kept calling ATF saying ‘there’s something wrong with this operation. We shouldn’t just be handing these guns to these people.’”
Video shot and edited by Grae Stafford