House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith has called on President Barack Obama to appoint a special counsel to investigate whether Attorney General Eric Holder misled the committee about his knowledge of the Fast and Furious gunrunning sting that put high-powered weapons in the hands of Mexican drug dealers.
In a letter to Obama, the Texas Republican expressed concern that, in light of new documents, members of Congress may have been misled by the attorney general’s response to a question regarding his knowledge of the Fast and Furious program.
“The Department’s consistent response to Congress has been that Operation Fast and Furious was a discrete law enforcement effort largely isolated to the ATF office in Phoenix,” Smith said in the letter. “These documents appear to undermine this claim and bring into question statements made by Attorney General Holder to this Committee.
“Allegations that senior Justice Department officials may have intentionally misled Members of Congress are extremely troubling and must be addressed by an independent and objective special counsel. I urge you to appoint a special counsel who will investigate these allegations as soon as possible.”
According to the letter, Holder was asked on May 3 when he first knew of the program. Holder responded, “I’m not sure of the exact date, but I probably heard about Fast and Furious for the first time over the last few weeks.”
However, documents that the Justice Department recently supplied to the committee show that Holder was receiving National Drug Intelligence Center weekly updates in July 2010 that mentioned the program by name and gave information about the guns being trafficked to Mexico.
Additionally, a memo to Holder from Lanny Breuer, assistant attorney general for the Criminal Division, discussed the program.
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