House investigators probing the Fast and Furious gun-running scheme, are pressing for lower-level government attorneys to be forced to give evidence, now their boss has invoked the Fifth Amendment.
Rep. Darrell Issa, chairman of the House oversight and government reform committee, wrote to Attorney General Eric Holder on Wednesday asking him to make Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Morrissey available to give evidence.
Morrissey's boss, Patrick Cunningham, invoked his Fifth Amendment rights not to give evidence to the committee in what Issa called a "startling development" that "suggests possible criminal culpability on the part of a high ranking Justice Department official."
So far Holder has said that lower-level "line attorneys" should not be subject to congressional scrutiny, but Issa said that should no longer be the case due to Cunningham's decision.
Issa said Morrissey and another assistant U.S. attorney, Emory Hurley, are "unique in their possession of key factual knowledge about Fast and Furious not readily available from any other source."
He added, "Now that Mr. Cunningham has formally refused to speak with the committee, the department must make Mr. Morrissey available as soon as possible." He gave Holder until 5 pm Thursday to make up his mind.
"If you choose not to make Mr. Morrissey available, the committee will be forced to use compulsory process to ensure his presence," Issa warned.
Issa¹s committee is investigating how Fast and Furious was set up and operated. Under the scheme, officials from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) were told not to prevent the sale of guns, even though it was known they would be smuggled over the border and end up in the hands of violent Mexican drug cartels.
The goal was that the weapons would be traced and would lead agents to cartel leaders. However, nearly all the guns went missing and have been used in hundreds of crimes on both sides of the border.
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