Reaction: Holder Claims Vindication

Posted: Sep 19, 2012 6:14 PM

With Fast & Furious news breaking this afternoon, I appeared on Megyn Kelly's Fox News program for a quick hit of instant analysis (her "pinch hitting" comment is a reference to the fact that I was originally scheduled to discuss the latest round of presidential polls, but things can shift rapidly on live television):

Unfortunately for Megyn's viewers, I happened to be the only Townhall editor in the green room at the time this report came down.  One of my colleagues has written an entire book about this scandal, and would have been far better equipped to address the intricacies of the story.  Nevertheless, a few points stick out in my mind: (1) Let's wait and see what the Inspector General has to say when he appears before Chairman Issa's committee tomorrow morning.  Katie will have comprehensive coverage of his testimony.  Remember that Issa has also produced his own report, which delivered harsher verdicts than the executive branch's internal investigation.

(2) Attorney General Holder's initial statement in response to the report is indicative of the intensely political posture he's adopted at the helm of DOJ.  He claims vindication for himself and his top lieutenants, laments the departure of two offiicials who bear significant responsibility for the disastrous program's mishandling, and scolds Republicans for "baseless accusations" surrounding the lethal scandal.  Then, in the penultimate paragraph, he finally gets around to mentioning the victims of the gun-running program, including US Border Patrol agent Brian Terry.

(3) Questions to consider: If Holder is truly in the clear, why was a error-riddled letter submitted by the Justice Department to the United States Senate, then withdrawn months later, after its falsehoods were exposed?  Why did Holder testify under oath that he'd first heard about Fast & Furious "a few weeks" prior to May of 2011, when he had in fact received memos on the matter ten months earlier?  (And by extension, why doesn't he read, or get briefed on, important memos?) Finally, if the internal report proves that top DOJ brass have nothing to worry about, why did President Obama swoop in with his executive privilege maneuver to thwart Congressional investigators' access to tens of thousands of documents?  Remember, Issa was only seeking items related to the Justice Department's handling of the scandal after the program had been shut down (ie, the cover-up).  Now that the IG says Holder has nothing to fret about, will the Attorney General finally hand those docs over -- or does he still have some reason to keep them hidden from scrutiny?