Politics

Cummings redacts key details from letter accusing Issa of omitting Fast and Furious facts

Matthew Boyle Investigative Reporter

In a letter sent Tuesday, Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings, the ranking Democrat on the House oversight committee, accused Republican committee chairman Rep. Darrell Issa of misrepresenting new evidence in the Operation Fast and Furious saga.

But a copy of the letter posted on the committee Democrats’ website includes long redacted sections, hiding the substance of Cummings’ argument from the American people.

The letter was a response to Issa’s announcement Tuesday of new evidence in the Fast and Furious saga. In a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, Issa wrote that his committee had “obtained copies of six wiretap applications in support of seven wire intercepts utilized during Fast and Furious.”

Issa said those documents “show that immense detail about questionable investigative tactics was available to the senior officials who reviewed and authorized them.”

Because the committee has this evidence now, Issa explained, they can show Holder and several other Justice Department officials in the Obama administration provided “false” statements to Congress.

In his response to Issa, Cummings wrote that Issa omitted relevant facts and ultimately “mischaracterize[d] the contents and significance” of the wiretap application documents.

But Cummings himself redacted from public view all the evidence supporting his claims, and the entire substance of his argument, with the exception of two half-sentences.

“First, your letters omit the critical fact that,” Cummings wrote, before blacking out several lines. He then claimed that the redacted lines show “a key omission that completely undermines your conclusions and distorts your representations.”

Later in his letter, Cummings curiously accuses Issa of “omit[ting] critical facts that undermine your conclusions,” something that his own letter demonstrated.

NEXT: Cummings’ staff justifies redacting key information from the letter

READ: 2012-06-05 Cummings Letter to Issa

It’s unclear why Cummings felt compelled to redact his letter so heavily. Democratic committee spokespersons refused to answer when The Daily Caller asked for a reason. One hung up the phone on TheDC, saying she would “have to call you back.”

In an email to reporters accompanying the letter, spokespersons for Cummings argued that the “redactions of information” were meant “to protect the integrity of ongoing investigations and prosecutions.” Holder and other DOJ officials have used that argument regularly in their attempts to withhold Fast and Furious-related information from congressional investigators. Most of the material sought by Issa’s committee, however, has been turned over to internal investigators in DOJ’s Office of Inspector General.

Cummings blamed the George W. Bush administration for initiating the “gunwalking” tactics that found its full expression in Operation Fast and Furious, misspelling the name of the Bush administration official he has fought unsuccessfully to question over the Bush-era gunwalking program.

“To date, you have not held a hearing with former Attorney General [Michael] Muksaey [sic],” Cummings wrote to Issa.

Cummings added that he believes testimony from Deputy Assistant Attorney General Jason Weinstein exonerates Department of Justice leaders from accusations that the signed off on Fast and Furious tactics in the wiretap applications.

He cited testimony the Obama administration official gave, in which he said Department of Justice officials routinely rely only on “summary memos” to approve wiretaps. According to Cummings’ letter, Weinstein told the committee that those summary memos don’t contain all the details about a given law enforcement operation.

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