Holder Agrees to Meeting About Fast and Furious With Contempt Looming

Katie Pavlich

6/14/2012 2:14:00 PM - Katie Pavlich

Attorney General Eric Holder has sent a letter to Chairman of the House Oversight Committee Darrell Issa in response to an offer from Issa yesterday giving Holder an out when it comes to looming contempt charges over his stonewalling of the Congressional investigation into Operation Fast and Furious. In the letter, Holder asks for a meeting no later than Monday with Issa to discuss the scandal, however, Issa and the Committee aren't simply looking for more empty words, they want documents, thousands of them that have been requested for more than a year now.  Holder's letter specifically addresses a willingness to give the Committee documents pertaining to information surrounding a false February 4, 2011 submitted to Congress by the Department of Justice denying gunwalking ever occurred, but not 70,000 outstanding documents about the entire scandal. The February 4 letter was full of so many lies, it had to be withdrawn. Holder also doubles down on his argument that senior DOJ officials knew nothing about gunwalking tactics used during or about Operation Fast and Furious in general until after Border Agent Brian Terry was killed in December 2010. The problem is, multiple memos about Fast and Furious were addressed directly to Holder as early as July 2010 and wiretap applications show Holder's Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer knew about the extensive details of Fast and Furious and approved gunwalking six times starting in March 2010. Not to mention, Holder's now Chief of Staff Gary Grindler's handwriting is all over an official ATF Fast and Furious Powerpoint presentation given in Phoneix March 2010.

From the letter:

"Thank you for your letter dated June 13, 2012. I appreciate that the Committee has narrowed its request for information related to its review of Operation Fast and Furious and now no longer seeks sensitive law enforcement information arising out of that investigation. We have repeatedly expressed concern that the production of such materials would undermine the integrity and independence of the Department's core law enforcement operations. The Committee's decision not to insist on the production of those material is an important step forward in this accommodation process.

In the last week, I have testified before both the House and Senate Judiciary Committees that the Department is prepared to compromise with the Committee in order to answer the questions set forth in the May 18, 2012, letter to me from you and House Leaders. I reiterate that offer today with a specific focus on the collection of documents to which you referred in your letter to me of June 13. More specifically, the Department is prepared to provide documents that, while outside the scope of the Committee's interest in the inappropriate tactics used in Fast and Furious, are responsive to how the Department's understanding of the facts regarding that matter evolved throughout 2011 and how the Department's understanding of the facts regarding that matter evolved throughout 2011 and how the Department came to withdraw its February 4, 2011, letter to Senator Grassley. The Department is willing to accommodate the Committee's interest in those materials."

"The record in this matter reflects that until allegations about the inappropriate tactics used in Fast and Furious were made public, Department leadership was aware of those tactics."

"The Department's willingness to provide these materials is a serious, good faith effort to bring this matter to an amicable resolution."

"I continue to believe that a meeting is required both to assure that there are no misunderstanding about this matter and to confirm that the elements of the proposal we are making will be deemed sufficient to render the process of contempt unnecessary. I seek your direct engagement for precisely that reason, and I propose that the meeting occur by Monday, June 18, 2012."

Meanwhile, Democrat Elijah Cummings has launched a full scale defense of Eric Holder and is accusing Issa of abusing the oversight power of the Committee.

Holder called looming contempt charges a "impending constitutional crisis" Tuesday during testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee.