Attorney General Eric Holder will testify about Operation Fast and Furious before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on Feb. 2.
According to a release from committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa, Holder will be asked to testify on what happened during Operation Fast and Furious and how the Department of Justice has responded to the congressional investigation into the program.
Holder’s DOJ recently withdrew a February 4, 2011 letter it sent to Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley because it contained false statements.
Holder has refused to comply with a subpoena from Issa’s committee that lawfully requires the DOJ to provide Congress with Fast and Furious documents created after that false letter was sent last year.
“The Department of Justice’s conduct in the investigation of Operation Fast and Furious has been nothing short of shameful,” Issa said in statement on Wednesday. “From its initial denials that nothing improper occurred, to efforts to silence whistle-blowers who wanted to tell Congress what really happened, to its continuing refusal to discuss or share documents related to this cover up, the Justice Department has fought tooth and nail to hide the full truth about what occurred and what senior officials knew. Attorney General Holder must explain or reverse course on decisions that appear to put the careers of political appointees ahead of the need for accountability and the department’s integrity.”
If Holder continues to refuse to provide Congress with the relevant legally-subpoenaed documents, Issa may move forward with contempt of Congress proceedings. He floated the idea while questioning Holder during his most recent appearance before Congress in early December.
Holder testified about Fast and Furious before the House Judiciary Committee two times in 2011 — on May 3 and on Dec. 8. He also testified about the scandal before the Senate Judiciary Committee in early November 2011. Holder hasn’t, however, testified before Issa’s committee on Fast and Furious.
Issa had previously requested Holder testify on January 24.
Before Congress’s Christmas holiday, 62 congressmen, two senators, two sitting governors and every major Republican presidential candidate had demanded Holder’s ouster over the resulting scandal. And 85 congressmen had signed a House resolution of “no confidence” in Holder as the nation’s top law enforcement officer. Between the two lists, which don’t perfectly overlap, 97 members of the House have “no confidence” in Holder, believe he should resign, or both.
Fast and Furious was a program of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, overseen by Holder’s DOJ. It sent thousands of weapons to Mexican drug cartels via straw purchasers — people who legally purchased guns in the United States with the known intention of illegally trafficking them somewhere else.
At least 300 people in Mexico were killed with Fast and Furious weapons, as was Border Patrol agent Brian Terry. The identities of the Mexican victims are unknown. Allegations have surfaced that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent Jaime Zapata was also killed with Fast and Furious weapons.