House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa and Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee Charles Grassley have just released another report, in a series of three, about Operation Fast and Furious. The latest report details failures by and knowledge of Department of Justice officials involved in the fatal scandal. The first report was released in July and a third report is expected in the next few weeks.
The most recent report contains damning information and documentation showing Attorney General Eric Holder's Deputy Chief of Staff Monty Wilkinson and DOJ Official Patrick Cunningham discussing plans for Holder to participate a press conference announcing the "take-down" or the end of Operation Fast and Furious before Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was killed on December 15, 2010. Guns from the Fast and Furious program were left at Terry's murder scene. Holder claims he didn't know about Operation Fast and Furious until May of 2011. The email below was sent on December 14, 2010 at 12:28 pm, just 12 hours before Terry's murder.
In questioning by Congressional investigators, an attorney for former U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke (who resigned in August 2011 in light of the scandal) admitted Burke was in contact with Wilkinson about Holder's participation in the Fast and Furious press conference and suggested it was Holder's office that requested coming out for the press conference in the first place. From the report:
Q. Okay. So this email is specifically in regard to the Attorney General coming out to join you for the take-down of Fast and Furious?
As soon as the news showing the connection between Terry's murder and Operation Fast and Furious made its way back to Washington, Holder's participation in the press conference was cancelled.
When asked about his communication with Burke about Holder and Fast and Furious, Wilkinson simply said he "didn't recall."
Q. So do you recall having any conversations with Mr. Burke at any time about why he did not believe that it was a good idea for the Attorney General to announce the investigation?
A. I . . . do not have any recollection of having any such conversation with Mr. Burke.
Q. So other than the email where he says he doesn’t think it is a good idea, you never had any indication from any source as to why he thought it wasn’t a good idea?
A. I don’t have any recollection of having any conversation with him. The problems with the investigation came to light I guess in late January 2011, and that is when I became aware of the tactics that were used.
Q. Right. I understand you don’t recall any specific conversations with him. I asked you a slightly different question and my second question was slightly different. I asked if you had any idea or any indication from any source as to why Mr. Burke communicated to you his view that he didn’t think the Attorney General should announce the investigation?
A. Not that I recall, no.
Q. Did Mr. Burke ever indicate to you that the reason that he rescinded his request for the Attorney General to come out and visit the District of Arizona was in any way related to the murder of Agent Brian Terry?
A. Again I don’t recall having any conversations or communications with Mr. Burke about this.
On top of further revealing Holder's one-degree of separation from the scandal, the report holds nearly every senior DOJ official close to Holder accountable for failed leadership and poor management surrounding Operation Fast and Furious. Those officials include Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer, Acting Deputy Attorney General Gary Grindler, Deputy Assistant Attorney General Jason Weinstein, Deputy Chief of Staff Monty Wilkinson and Associate Deputy Attorney General Ed Siskel.