Rep. Darrell Issa is all but accusing Attorney General Eric Holder of engaging in a “cover-up” because of his refusal to turn over subpoenaed documents related to the bungled Fast and Furious gun-trafficking operation.
“I think often what happens is, to avoid embarrassment, they don’t provide information or they cover up what they know, and then the cover-up becomes the problem,” Issa told Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren Tuesday night.
The California Republican, who chairs the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, spoke with Van Susteren shortly after meeting with Holder in an effort to resolve a standoff over the documents and head off a vote in the committee Wednesday citing the attorney general with contempt of Congress.
A vote in the full House is expected today, despite a White House decision Wednesday afternoon declaring executive privilege over the documents, which are related to Holder’s own ongoing investigation of the gun-running operation.
Issa said he was simply trying “to get to the bottom” of how guns from the operation were allowed to end up in the hands of Mexican drug cartels and were allegedly used in the shooting of a U.S. Border Patrol agent and in the deaths of Mexican citizens.
Issa said Holder offered in their meeting to give the committee a briefing with relevant documents on his investigation in return for the committee dropping its inquiry into the matter along with the threat of a contempt citation.
“Sadly, the attorney general said in the meeting that if we go forward with contempt, we’d get no cooperation from that time forward,” Issa said. “On the other hand, he said if we would take the briefing, we’d have to close the case. So we’re sort of between a rock and a hard spot. We really have to go forward.”
Issa stressed that the documents requested by the committee were “limited” in scope.
“We’re not looking for information that would lead to the interruption of any ongoing criminal case,” Issa said. “But we are looking for the misconduct that occurred within Justice, giving us false testimony, and then standing by it for the best part of a year.”
Issa acknowledged that the Justice Department has turned over 7,600 pages of information to the committee, but he called that “insufficient.”
He insisted that his committee has “an obligation to find out who was responsible” for the Fast and Furious operation, which actually began during former President George W. Bush’s administration and Holder ended after he took office.
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