Utah Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz hasn’t yet called for Attorney General Eric Holder’s resignation or firing over Operation Fast and Furious, but he offered strong words for the embattled attorney general in a Wednesday interview with The Daily Caller.
Chaffetz told TheDC that Holder’s allegation that critics are motivated by racism was a “ridiculous assertion.”
“The Attorney General is always involved in very serious matters,” Chaffetz said. “It’s the nature of the job. If he can’t handle it and thinks it’s somehow based on something other than his performance, maybe it is time for him to get another job.”
In a front page New York Times story on Sunday, Holder alleged that some of his critics — a group he referred to as the “more extreme segment” — are motivated by racism. “This is a way to get at the president because of the way I can be identified with him,” Holder said of criticism he has received for the Fast and Furious scandal. “Both due to the nature of our relationship and, you know, the fact that we’re both African-American.”
Since then, Holder’s Justice Department, through a spokesperson, attacked the attorney general’s critics again for noticing that he inserted race into a the argument about whether or not he’s competent.
Chaffetz sits on both House committees investigating the program — the House Judiciary Committee and the House oversight committee. Chaffetz, House oversight committee chairman Rep. Darrell Issa and South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy have been spearheading the lower chamber’s investigation of Fast and Furious.
Chaffetz hasn’t called for Holder’s resignation or firing, despite a growing number of his colleagues doing so. “As somebody who’s continued to question him in committees and other ways, I’ve wanted to hold back a little bit on that,” Chaffetz explained. (RELATED: Full coverage of Eric Holder)
Chaffetz said he thinks the attorney general is ultimately responsible for Fast and Furious and for the resistance the DOJ exhibited throughout the congressional investigation. “Initially, he said he was oblivious to it,” Chaffetz said. “Now, we know he was intimately involved. We don’t know what he’s done — he’s been slow and defiant in providing information to us. I think that’s a big problem.”
As for whether President Barack Obama is responsible for Fast and Furious and what may be a Justice Department cover-up, Chaffetz said the president made himself responsible by promising accountability and thus far failing to deliver.
“Well, the president got involved,” Chaffetz said. “He said the attorney general wasn’t involved and that he wanted somebody to be held accountable. I would expect the president follow through on that commitment.”
Chaffetz can’t understand why Holder has consistently testified that he hasn’t discussed Fast and Furious with the president, with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano or with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The Utah Republican expects the topic would have come up during one of Holder’s weekly meetings with Obama. WTOP News radio reporter J.J. Green has reported that Holder meets with Obama every Tuesday to discuss national security issues.
“Well, that’s my point,” Chaffetz said. “Having testified that he hasn’t spoken to the president, the Secretary of Homeland Security or the Secretary of State, or his counterparts in Mexico, I find that hard to believe. If he hasn’t that’s a problem. If he has and he’s testifying otherwise, that’s also a problem. No matter how you slice it, it’s problematic.”