Former attorney general doesn’t want election-year politics to drive Fast and Furious furor

Stephen Elliott Contributor
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Former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales told The Daily Caller he doesn’t think Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign should turn the Operation Fast and Furious scandal into an election issue.

During Operation Fast and Furious, the Obama administration’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives — overseen by Attorney General Eric Holder’s Department of Justice — facilitated the sale of weapons to Mexican drug cartels in what the agencies later said was an efforts to track the guns to arms traffickers. The program ultimately resulted in the death of U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry, Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent Jaime Zapata and hundreds of Mexican citizens.

In wake of the scandal, 129 Congressmen have either demanded Holder’s resignation, signed an official House resolution of “no confidence,” or both. Romney, three U.S. senators and two sitting governors have also called for Holder’s resignation.

Gonzales, former President George W. Bush’s Attorney General from 2005 to 2007, is currently Of Counsel at Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis and a law professor at Belmont University, both in Nashville. He resigned under pressure in 2007 after congressional Democrats drove measures expressing no confidence in him, over his role in the firing of eight U.S. attorneys.

Gonzales said he believes “it’s appropriate for Congress to investigate what happened” in Fast and Furious “because an agent got killed.”

But he would not support going after Holder for purely political reasons because he knows “how damaging it can be to a [cabinet] department.”

After his resignation in 2007, Bush claimed that Gonzales’ “good name was dragged through the mud for political reasons.” (RELATED: Holder ducks question on highest-ranking official with Fast and Furious knowledge)

Gonzales does, however, believe that “it’s appropriate for the federal government to be involved in operations and projects, to work with the Mexican authorities to try to limit the number of guns coming from the United States into Mexico.”

When asked if Romney should pursue the Fast and Furious scandal as a campaign issue, Gonzales responded, “I’m not sure if he should, quite frankly.”

“If he’s going to use it for a political point to try to embarrass the Department of Justice, embarrass Holder, or Obama, simply for political reasons, I don’t support that.”

Arizona Republican Rep. Paul Gosar told TheDC on June 1 that he hopes Romney will pick this issue up and push for accountability in the DOJ. Holder has failed to comply with a congressional subpoena House Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa served on him in October 2011. Gosar thinks Romney would help in the push for accountability.

“I think he does [need to be more vocal],” Gosar said last week. “I think that people, as they find out about this, are outraged.”

“I think Gov. Romney, with his platform of accountability, needs to bring this forward to explain what is wrong and why his administration won’t be anything like this, outlying the checks and balances that he sees and how the Department of Justice’s role is not a legislative one, it’s about enforcing the laws that are on the books not picking winners and losers.”

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