Senator Charles Grassley has released new information showing Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer misled Congress when he said in a February 2011 letter that he was unaware of gunwalking tactics being used within the Department of Justice prior to the death of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry. Two weeks ago, Breuer testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee and admitted that he knew about gunwalking tactics as far back as 2007, but "failed to mention" the questionable tactics to Attorney General Eric Holder during Fast and Furious.
From Breuer's testimony on November 1, 2011:
GRASSLEY: On February 4th, 2011, the department sent me a letter also assuring me that allegations of gun walking were untrue. It reads, quote, "ATF makes every effort to interdict weapons that have been purchased illegally, and prevent their transportation to Mexico," end of quote. That statement is absolutely false. And you admitted as much last night, that you knew by April, 2010, that ATF walked guns in Operation Wide Receiver. That is that correct, yes?
BREUER: Yes, senator. What I...
GRASSLEY: That's all I need to know, if that's correct. Did you review that letter before it was sent to me?
BREUER: Senator, again, I just want to be clear that, as I told you a moment ago, I regret that in April of 2010 that I did not draw the connection between Wide Receiver and Fast and Furious. Moreover, I regret that -- that even in earlier this year that I didn't draw that connection. In direct answer to your question, senator, I can say -- I cannot say for sure whether I saw a draft of the letter that was sent to you. What I can tell you, senator, is at that time, I was in Mexico dealing with a very real issues that we are all so committed to. But I also regret, as I've said, that I didn't draw that connection earlier.
GRASSLEY: After learning of gun walking in Wide Receiver, did you ever inform the Attorney General Holder or deputy attorney general about it? And if so, when? And if not, why not?
BREUER: Senator, I can't be more clear. I've said to you, and I will continue to, I regret the fact that in April of 2010, I did not. At the time, I thought that we -- dealing with the leadership of ATF was sufficient and reasonable.
And frankly, given the amount of work I do, at the time, I thought that that was the appropriate way of dealing with it. But I cannot be more clear that knowing now -- if I had known then what I know now, I, of course, would have told the deputy and the attorney general.
GRASSLEY: Did you ever tell anybody else in the Justice Department leadership the same thing? And if so, who and when?
BREUER: Senator, I thought we had dealt with it by talking to the ATF leadership.
Now, Grassley is laying all the facts on the table:
Facts are STUBBORN Things:
“…and whatever our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.” - John Adams, December 1770
Senate Judiciary Committee Oversight Hearing with Attorney General Eric Holder, Nov. 8, 2011
• Senator Grassley: “Who will be held accountable for allowing a letter to Congress with a statement that many people in the Justice Department knew was false?
Attorney General Holder: “Well again I – I have to dispute, with due respect, the assertion that people in the Justice Department knew it was false.”
• Attorney General Holder to Senator Cornyn: “February the 4th, the information that was contained in that letter was thought to be accurate. It wasn’t until sometime after that that we had a sense that the information was not, in fact, accurate. So it wasn’t as if the date upon which we knew the information was inaccurate was on February the 4th.”
• Senator Lee: “And – and you’ve reiterated several times that people within the Department of Justice believed that the initial statements denying knowledge of Fast and Furious were accurate. They believed they were accurate. Obviously these were some people and not all people, right? Because clearly some people knew.
Attorney General Holder: “Exactly.”
On November 1, 2011, Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer admitted in testimony before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism that he knew the statement in the February 4th letter to Senator Grassley was absolutely false. Mr. Breuer had admitted in a statement issued the day before, on October 31, 2011, that gunwalking in a case known as Operation Wide Receiver was brought to his attention in April 2010. Documents produced by the Justice Department show that in addition to Mr. Breuer, his Deputy Assistant Attorney General Jason Weinstein, leadership within the Gang Unit of the department’s Criminal Division, and various Gang Unit prosecutors were also aware that guns had been walked in Operation Wide Receiver. Thus, many senior officials at Justice Department headquarters clearly knew that it was false to assert that “ATF makes every effort to interdict weapons that have been purchased illegally” — because they at least knew that ATF had walked guns in Wide Receiver. Correspondence that has been produced in response to Freedom of Information Act requests makes clear that the Criminal Division reviewed the February 4 letter multiple times before it was sent to Senator Grassley.
Further, as a follow-up to the letter, Deputy Assistant Attorney General Weinstein conducted a widely-attended briefing on February 10, 2011 for staff of Senate Judiciary Committee members. In that briefing, Mr. Weinstein did not disclose the gunwalking to staff, and clearly left the impression that they stood by the Justice Department’s Feb. 4 denial of the whistleblowers allegations, even though he was the same individual who brought gunwalking to Mr. Breuer’s attention nine months earlier in April 2010.
Emails also prove Breuer knew about gunwalking in 2010, further showing he submitted false information to Congress:
Now the question is: Will Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer not only be held accountable for submitting false information to the Grassley, but will he face consequences for doing so. A press conference is scheduled at 1:15 pm today on Capitol Hill, where members of the House will call for increased accountability and transparency from the Justice Department surrounding Fast and Furious as the DOJ continues to stonewall the House Oversight investigation into the fatal program.