High-ranking DOJ official to resign amid Fast and Furious, Virgin Islands bribery scandals
U.S. Assistant Attorney General Ronald Weich plans to resign his position soon, as two different scandals rage on in which he has provided allegedly misleading information to Congress.
Weich, who has served as Attorney General Eric Holder’s emissary in congressional communications, will become the next dean of the University of Baltimore School of Law in July, according to the National Law Journal.
The DOJ official is the same Holder deputy who falsely told Congress that neither the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives nor any part of the Department of Justice ever allowed illicit firearms to “walk” across the U.S.-Mexico border — even as contrary facts emerged from the investigation into Operation Fast and Furious.
On Feb. 4, 2011, Weich wrote to Congress that the idea that “ATF ‘sanctioned’ or otherwise knowingly allowed the sale of assault weapons to a straw purchaser who then transported them into Mexico … is false.”
“ATF makes every effort to interdict weapons that have been purchased illegally and prevent their transportation to Mexico,” Weich added in that letter.
The DOJ has since retracted Weich’s letter but has not held anyone accountable for providing that misinformation to Congress, or for Operation Fast and Furious itself.
Scores of lawmakers — 125 House members, three U.S. Senators, two governors — and many major political figures including likely Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney have demanded Holder’s resignation or firing over Fast and Furious.
In February, Weich denied the Justice Department’s involvement in another scandal. The Daily Caller learned that the DOJ had failed to arrest and prosecute several indicted financial criminals because of an alleged bribery scheme. Weich said the DOJ had no knowledge of any bribery.
But TheDC’s investigation unearthed allegations that two DOJ prosecutors on a team of more than 25 accepted cash bribes from indicted finance executives in the U.S. Virgin Islands. And USVI Gov. John de Jongh allegedly accepted part of at least $20 million in cash bribes in exchange for favors from his administration. At least five other prosecutors, according to TheDC’s well-placed source in the DOJ, were compromised.
Weich’s letter denying the allegations was carefully worded. He addressed few specifics in TheDC’s reporting or in the letter Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley sent him requesting additional information. His response made no mention of sealed indictments, or of the lengthy investigation the DOJ conducted into the financial irregularities at the center of the Virgin Islands case.
Instead, Weich challenged only The Daily Caller’s decision to give its source protection through anonymity, claiming the DOJ has no knowledge of the alleged bribes explored in the story.
“The Department is not aware of facts supporting any allegations of bribery, as purported by the article,” Weich wrote.
DOJ spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler has not responded to months of questions from TheDC about the specifics of this story. Schmaler also didn’t respond on Wednesday when asked what connection, if any, Weich’s resignation has to Operation Fast and Furious, or to the Virgin Islands case.