More Americans believe Attorney General Eric Holder should resign over the now-infamous gun-running operation "Fast and Furious," which was conceived as a way to catch members of drug cartels but instead put guns in the hands of Mexican criminals.
A survey by Rasmussen Reports found that 40 percent of likely voters think that Holder should step down, with only 27 percent saying he should stay. But with 33 percent undecided, those who want Holder held accountable could grow as he faces off with Republican congressmen who have asked for documents on the operation.
Holder is proposing to meet with Rep. Darrell Issa by Monday to settle a dispute over Justice Department documents the congressman is demanding on a flawed gun-smuggling probe.
Holder said Thursday the department is prepared to turn over documents detailing how Justice Department officials came to the realization that federal agents in Arizona had used a controversial investigative tactic that resulted in hundreds of illicitly purchased guns winding up in Mexico, many of them at crime scenes. Two of the weapons were recovered at the scene of the slaying of a U.S. border agent, Brian Terry.
The Rasmussen survey of 1000 likely voters, shows that Holder is the most unpopular member of President Barack Obama's cabinet.
Only 24 percent of voters have at least a somewhat favorable opinion of Holder, while 48 percent view him unfavorably. This includes 8 percent with a very favorable view of the nation’s chief law enforcement officer and 32 percent with a very unfavorable one. Twenty-eight percent don’t know enough about Holder to venture any kind of opinion.
A substantial number of voters also are not familiar with the Fast and Furious controversy. Only 50 percent say they are following news reports about it at least somewhat closely, with 24 percent who are following very closely.
This helps explain why 11 percent of voters say the Fast and Furious operation was a success, while 45 percent think it was a failure. But 44 percent are not sure. Similarly, only 11 percent think the Justice Department has been honest with Congress about the operation, but 45 percent do not. Again, however, 44 percent are not sure.
In a letter to Issa Thursday, the attorney general said the information he is prepared to provide will fully address concerns of the congressman and House Republican leaders. Issa, R-Calif., has scheduled a committee vote for next Wednesday on a contempt citation against Holder for failing to turn over relevant documents on the operation and its aftermath.
Along with the documents, the attorney general said the department is prepared to provide a briefing "explaining how the department's understanding of the facts of Fast and Furious evolved."
When problems with Operation Fast and Furious came to light in early 2011, the Justice Department denied to Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, that agents in the operation had relied on gun-walking — letting illicitly purchased guns be transported instead of intercepted in an effort to track them to major arms-traffickers. The tactic has long been barred by Justice Department policy, although Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agents in Arizona experimented with it during both the George W. Bush and Obama administrations.
Holder said that over a period of months in 2011, the Justice Department backed off its initial denials as documents to be provided to Issa's House Oversight and Government Reform Committee were collected and reviewed and as witness testimony before the committee was evaluated.
"Evidence came to light that was inconsistent with the initial denials provided to department personnel," Holder's letter stated.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.
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