Pressure is intensifying rapidly for the resignation of Attorney General Eric Holder over the fatally flawed Operation Fast and Furious gunrunning scandal — with Rep. Paul Gosar demanding that Holder quit immediately and Arizona sheriffs saying he should be fired if he won’t resign.
Gosar, an Arizona Republican, issued the call for Holder’s resignation on “Fox and Friends” today.
Meanwhile, Rep. Darrell Issa said on “Fox News Sunday” that his House Oversight and Government Reform Committee may issue subpoenas against top Justice Department officials as early as this week over the controversial Operation Fast and Furious gunrunning scandal. The California Republican indicated that some government actions in the Fast and Furious scheme of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) could have been felonious.
Arizona sheriffs would welcome such subpoenas, as they called Friday not only for Holder to step down or be fired but also for President Barack Obama to instigate an independent investigation into the controversy.
And U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, who has been dogging Fast and Furious along with Issa, maintains that Holder is stonewalling their investigations — and he’s tired of it. I always tell every agency . . . that I have been investigating, the longer you stonewall, when the truth comes out, the more egg you are going to have on your face,” the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee told Newsmax
Under Fast and Furious, at least 1,400 weapons were allowed to cross the border into Mexico in the hope that they could be traced and would lead ATF agents to cartel bosses.
But ATF lost track of most of the weapons, many of which have been linked to dozens of crimes, including the murder of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry and the slaying of Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agent Jaime Zapata.
The Arizona sheriffs, speaking at the state capitol in Phoenix on Friday, denounced the 2009 ATF program as a betrayal of state law enforcement. Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu noted that the sheriffs joining him in calling for the investigation are split evenly between Democrats and Republicans.
“This is not a partisan issue, but a serious public safety issue that threatens the safety of our citizens and our deputies,” Babeu said. “Our own federal government has armed the very cartels that our law enforcement are fighting with on a daily basis.”
The sheriffs’ plea for an inquiry came even as Holder himself acknowledged Friday in a five-page letter he sent to six leading members of Congress that the gunrunning operation was “fundamentally flawed” and “completely unacceptable."
However, much of Holder’s letter spurned responsibility for the backfired program and assailed Republican criticism instead. Holder’s letter attacked Gosar specifically for his statement last week that administration officials could be considered “accessories to murder” for their role in the ATF program.
“Such irresponsible and inflammatory rhetoric must be repudiated in the strongest possible terms,” Holder's letter said. “Those who serve in the ranks of law enforcement are our Nation’s heroes and deserve our Nation’s thanks, not the disrespect that is being heaped on them by those who seek political advantage. I trust you feel similarly and I call on you to denounce these statements.”
Gosar refuses to do any such thing, insisting instead that the real issue is the need for government officials to take accountability for their actions.
“This starts with accountability from the top,” said Gosar, who also is a member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
Pinpointing accountability also is the intent of subpoenas that Issa promises. Issa, who indicated on “Fox News Sunday” that some government actions in Fast and Furious could have been felonious, said his committee intends to grill Justice officials, including Holder, to determine "what did they know and when did they know it?"
"Very clearly he [Holder] had to know when Brian Terry was killed and everyone realized these were Fast and Furious weapons," Issa said. "He had to know something serious had happened, and that's months before he says he knew. If we assume for a moment he didn't know, the question is, is he competent? If in fact a border patrol agent has been murdered, 2,000 weapons have gone [missing], this program has completely gone off the rails — why didn't he know?"
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