U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, facing mounting frustration from Congressional Republicans about the Justice Department’s cooperation with an investigation of the “Fast and Furious” gun-running operation, on Thursday offered to meet with House Speaker John Boehner to provide additional information about the controversial operation.
The Speaker’s office declined to provide a definitive response to Holder’s offer of a meeting. Boehner denied any ongoing conversation with the Department of Justice about resolving the investigation, reports The Hill
Holder, who faces questions about how deeply he and his deputies involved themselves in the authorization and execution of the gun-running scandal, has been accused by Republicans of stonewalling their inquiry. On Thursday, the Attorney General testified before a frequently hostile House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, with committee chair Darrell Issa, R-Calif., even telling Holder he was not a “good witness.”
“A good witness answers the questions asked,” said Issa.
For over a year, Issa has been investigating the role played by the Justice Department in approving and prosecuting the “Fast and Furious” operation.
Issa has issued a series of subpoenas seeking thousands of documents related to the failed operation. After providing 7,600 documents, Issa claims the Justice Department halted their cooperation, declining to provide further information.
During his testimony, Holder defended his department’s cooperation, explaining that Justice has “viewed over 140,000 documents and produced to you about 7,600.”
Issa, clearly impatient, fired back, “I don’t want to hear about the 7,600.”
The investigation has recently focused on six wiretap applications, signed by senior DOJ officials, that Republicans see as evidence that the highest levels of the Justice Department were aware of gun-running as part of the operation.
The Attorney General disputed that conclusion, explaining that senior officials were only signing off on summaries written by lower-level attorneys. “I’ve looked at these affidavits, I’ve looked at these summaries, there’s nothing in those affidavits — as I’ve reviewed them — that indicates that ‘gun-walking’ was allowed,” said Holder. “I didn’t see anything in there that would put on notice a person who was reviewing, either at the line level or at the deputy assistant attorney general level [and] would have knowledge of the fact that these inappropriate tactics were being used.”
During his testimony, Holder rejected a request from Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Ut., to privately brief a bipartisan group of lawmakers on “Fast and Furious,” saying, “With all due respect, I gave you four hours at a crack on eight separate occasions […] I’m not sure there’s an awful lot more I have to say.”
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