South Carolina Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy reaffirmed his call for Attorney General Eric Holder’s resignation “the easy way,” or impeachment “the hard way,” during an interview with The Daily Caller after Thursday’s House oversight committee hearing during which Holder testified about Operation Fast and Furious.
While he was questioning Holder at the hearing, Gowdy explained that officials at the Department of Justice’s headquarters were aware of Fast and Furious and gun-walking tactics long before a “demonstrably false” letter was sent to Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley claiming otherwise. Since the DOJ sent that letter, which stated it never let guns walk, it has withdrawn the letter because it of its inaccuracies.
“I think he wound up admitting at the end [of the hearing] that Main Justice knew of gun-walking, so this notion that we’re going to blame it all on the United States Attorney’s office in Arizona or ATF — I went through a litany of people, all of them were Main Justice employees who knew about gunwalking both in Fast and Furious and before which means the letter that was sent to Senator Grassley was demonstrably false,” Gowdy told TheDC.
“We still haven’t gotten any of his emails,” noted Gowdy, “we don’t have any documents after February 4, so it’s clear to me that people at Main Justice knew that gun-walking was going on in Fast and Furious. It’s also clear to me that absolutely nothing has happened to a single solitary person as a result of this other than one dead Border Patrol agent and lots of Mexican citizens. Beyond that, I can’t find a single consequence that has befallen anybody who knew about this.”
Regardless of the mounting evidence that high-ranking officials were aware of and approved gun-walking — which includes what Gowdy laid out and newly public emails between former acting ATF director Ken Melson and Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer, the head of the DOJ’s Criminal Division, in which Breuer describes what appears to be Fast and Furious gun-walking tactics as a “terrific idea” in 2009 — House oversight committee Democrats claim that high-ranking DOJ officials never knew about or approved gun-walking.
Gowdy described a lengthy report that the committee’s ranking member, Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings, released earlier this week as “demonstrably false.”
“Look, they’re wrong,” he said. “That one email proves it. The phrase ‘Wide Receiver’ is never used in that email, it’s [James] Trusty and [Jason] Weinstein, they’re talking about Fast and Furious, they mention gun-walking, they talk about the press consequences of it, nobody ever gets around to talking about the moral implications of it, they just more worried about the press.”
Gowdy added that if had more time with Holder during the hearing, he would have proven how gun laws already on the books — if Holder’s DOJ and ATF actually enforced them rather than not following them themselves — would have been more than enough to keep them from needing to arm the Mexican drug cartels to make a case for new gun laws.
Democrats on the committee and Holder argued that new gun laws would have kept ATF agents who weren’t enforcing the gun laws already on the books from letting guns walk.
“Had we had another round of questions, I was going to prove to the Attorney General — which he already knows –that there are plenty of gun laws on the books right now, that if used, could have more than adequately prosecuted this case,” Gowdy said. “So, the notion that the fix is: ‘We just got to get Congress to pass more gun laws’ is just sheer sophistry. And, I could have proven that, but I only got, what, eight minutes?”
Gowdy might get another chance soon. “The more hearings the merrier,” he told TheDC.
“At some point, the chairman is going to have to decide whether or not to force to the issue of making DOJ turn over documents post-February 4,” Gowdy said. “No one believes that they’re doing it only to stand on principle. There’s something in those documents they do not want us to see. So, yeah, until we can answer those questions, they [Democrats and Holder] can talk about politics all they want.”
Gowdy, a prosecutor before entering politics, shrugs off the partisan criticism against Republicans seeking answers and accountability for Fast and Furious victims.
“I actually worked for the Justice Department that was headed by Janet Reno [Bill Clinton’s Attorney General],” he said. “So, yeah, the good thing about prosecutors and law enforcement is there’s no Republican or Democrat. It’s just the facts. And, you shouldn’t be afraid to disclose them. But, for whatever reason they’re not going to turn over those documents and we’ll stay on it until they do.”
“It’s not about Eric Holder, to me, as much as it is the reputation and the integrity of the top law enforcement official in this country and the Department of Justice,” Gowdy added. “It’s not about politics. If it were about politics, I’d say give us Jason Weinstein, [James] Trusty, [Lanny] Breuer. It’s about being able to look my constituents in the eyes and say you can have trust in the Department of Justice, because right now, the way it looks to me, is that they are engaged in this deflecting the blame, ‘we’re going to make you prove it,’ ‘we’re not going to give you documents unless there’s a court order.’ That’s just unacceptable to me.”