Issa Accuses DOJ of Obstructing Investigation With Audio Releases

Katie Pavlich
Posted: Sep 22, 2011 2:28 PM

All week, CBS News has been releasing secret audio recordings between Lone Wolf Trading Company Owner Andre Howard and ATF Agent Hope McCallister. At first glance, the tapes seem to indicate Howard was in a panic for doing something wrong, when really, the tapes were recorded in order to have on record what ATF was really doing in light of the murder of Border Patrol Agent Brain Terry. His murder was a result of Operation Fast and Furious.  Howard was fully prepared for ATF to throw him under the bus when the guns found at the Terry crime scene were traced back to his store, despite Howard selling them to straw purchasers under orders from ATF to do so.

Throughout the course of Operation Fast and Furious, Howard was told by ATF the guns he was selling to straw purchasers were being interdicted but later became suspicious ATF agents were lying to him. Turns out, they were. ATF wasn't intercepting guns he sold, they were purposely allowing them to flow across the border into Mexico.  In an interview with Fox News reporter William LaJeunesse, Howard's attorney, Larry Gaydos outlined why Howard recorded the tapes:

LaJeunesse: Let me ask you, when um, when we hear Andre Howard on these audio tapes it sounds like he’s complicit or a co-conspirator with Hope McCallister. He’s using bad language, he’s referring to, you know, these congressmen as if they were dirt bags. What are we hearing there?

Gaydos: Uh, what we’re hearing there is, uh, Mr. Howard became concerned immediately after the guns from the Terry site were traced to his store. He was told by ATF that he was not to talk with any other agents about those guns being traced to his store, that he was not to talk to Congress at all about those matters. Uh, and right after, in fact, of the time these guns were traced, an article came out in the Washington Post sighting his store as one of the leading stores where weapons were turning up at crime scenes, uh, in Mexico. In addition, he was starting to get more and more trace requests for crime scene weapons. He had been told by ATF that those traces were not to crime scenes, but they were of interdicted weapons that were seized right there in Phoenix. He became very suspicious, obviously, of that. And so he decided, in his own defense, he would tape key conversations with Miss McCallister and try and get her to make admissions about the truth of the matter: i.e. that there were weapons that were seized from his store.

Now, Chairman of the House Oversight Committee Darrell Issa and Ranking Member of the Senate Judicary Committe Charles Grassley are accusing the Justice Department of leaking the recording to the media in an effort to obstruct their investigation, which has been ongoing since earlier this year.

The inspector general of the Department of Justice undermined and obstructed a congressional investigation by releasing secret tape recordings that corroborate allegations of misconduct in "Operation Fast and Furious," according to a letter written by Rep. Darrell Issa and Sen. Charles Grassley.

The two lawmakers leading the probe into the Obama administration scandal claim Justice Inspector General Cynthia Schnedar compromised their investigators' ability to get to the truth and potentially prosecute those responsible for selling thousands of weapons to the Mexican drug cartels.

Schnedar failed to even listen to the recordings before handing them over to the actual targets of the investigation, the letter alleges.

"Each of these disclosures undermines our ability to assess the candor of witnesses in our investigation and thus obstructs it," they wrote in a letter dated Tuesday. "Moreover, your decision to immediately disclose the recordings to those you are investigating creates at least the appearance, if not more, that your inquiry is not sufficiently objective and independent.


As Issa describes in the CNN report, this is just another attempt, in a long line of stonewalling tactics, to obstruct the Oversight Committee investigation. Why? Because the Justice Department Inspector General is protecting Obama political appointees within DOJ. DOJ has stonewalled this investigation from the beginning and officials within the department, including the inspector general, will continue to do so because they have a lot to hide.