Avoiding Prison Time: Offical Won't Talk About Fast and Furious, Pleads the Fifth

Posted: Jan 20, 2012 11:26 AM

Yesterday I reported Chairman of the House Oversight Committee Darrell Issa had slapped a subpoena on Chief of the Criminal Division in the U.S. Attorney's Office for Arizona Patrick Cunningham after he refused to voluntarily testify about his role in approving lethal tactics used in Operation Fast and Furious. Today, according to his attorney, Cunningham will plead the Fifth, citing a conflict of interest between the executive and legislative branches of government, saying he refuses to testify against himself or reveal any information that could be used against him in a criminal indictment. In a House Oversight Committee press release, Cunningham's response is cited as "rare. The release also states that legally the only valid reason for citing the Fifth Amendment under subpoena is due to fear testimony given could be used to aid in one's criminal prosecution. 

Chairman of the House Oversight Committee has issued a response to the news :

“The assertion of the fifth amendment by a senior Justice official is a significant indictment of the Department’s integrity in Operation Fast and Furious. The former head of the ATF has previously told the committee that the Justice Department is managing its response to Operation Fast and Furious in a manner designed to protect its political appointees.  This is the first time anyone has asserted their fifth amendment right in this investigation and heightens concerns that the Justice Department’s motivation for refusing to hand over subpoenaed materials is a desire to shield responsible officials from criminal charges and other embarrassment.

“Coming a year after revelations about reckless conduct in Operation Fast and Furious were first brought to light, the assertion of the fifth amendment also raises questions about whether President Obama and Attorney General Holder have made a serious and adequate response to allegations raised by whistleblowers.  Did Attorney General Holder really not know a senior Justice Department official fears criminal prosecution or is this just another example of him hiding important facts?  The committee will continue to demand answers.”

So what information will Cunningham provide to move the investigation into Fast and Furious forward? His name and title.