U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa stopped short of calling for Attorney General Eric Holder’s resignation over the fatally flawed Operation Fast and Furious today, but the California Republican said Holder “clearly knew more than he said” when he testified before Congress.
Issa, the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that is investigating the federal gunrunning scandal, also raised questions during an appearance on "Face the Nation" today about the FBI’s handling of evidence in the case. In particular, Issa said, there may have been a third gun recovered at the scene of a December 2010 slaying of U.S. Border Patrol officer Brian Terry.
“The FBI has a history in some cases of working with felons and criminals and hiding their other crimes in order to keep an investigation going,” Issa said. “We thought that was behind us but it might not be.”
Republican Reps. Blake Farenthold of Texas, Raul Labrador of Idaho, and Paul Gosar of Arizona all have called on Holder to step down. Ten Arizona sheriffs — five Democrats and five Republicans — also have urged that the attorney general quit or be fired.
Asked whether he believes Holder should resign, Issa told host Bob Schieffer: “That’s for the president to decide. Many have called for it.”
Meanwhile, the ranking Democrat on Issa’s committee, Elijah Cummings of Maryland, said he believes that Issa is on a witch hunt.
“I think Chairman Issa has come up with some very unfortunate statements about the chief law enforcement officer in our country,” Cummings said on the same CBC broadcast.
“He’s come up with these statements and then he goes in search of the facts. We’ve seen this over and over again,” Cummings said.
The attorney general has stated that the first time he had heard of the program was in the weeks leading up to a May 2011 hearing of the House Judiciary Committee. The chairman of that committee subsequently called for the appointment of a special counsel to investigate whether Holder’s comments were truthful.
Under Fast and Furious, agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) were told not to intervene when hundreds of guns were sold to straw buyers, even though they knew they were bound for drug cartels south of the border. The idea was that the guns would be traced and would lead agents to the drug kingpins.
But nearly all the weapons were lost and were used in dozens of crimes in Mexico and the United States. In addition to Border Patrol officer Terry, and U.S. immigration officer Jaime Zapata also was murdered with one of the weapons.
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