Key Fast and Furious Official Leaves Justice Department

Posted: Dec 04, 2012 8:05 AM

Attorney General Eric Holder's Chief of Staff Gary Grindler has announced his departure from the Department of Justice. Grindler was named as one of the top DOJ officials responsible for the fatal Fast and Furious operation by the DOJ inspector general.

“We determined that Grindler learned on December 17, 2010, of the link between weapons found at the Terry murder scene and Operation Fast and Furious but did not inform the Attorney General about this information. We believe that he should have informed the Attorney General as well as made an appropriate inquiry of ATF or the U.S. Attorney’s Office about the connection. Grindler told us that he was relying on the FBI to investigate the homicide and that would include investigation of the weapons in question. We found that Grindler’s reliance on the FBI was misplaced given that it did not have the responsibility to determine whether errors in ATF’s investigation led to the weapons ending up at the murder scene or why ATF failed to take law enforcement action against Avila for nearly one year and did so only after Agent Terry’s murder. We also believe that Grindler should have ensured that the Department of Homeland Security was informed about the linkage.” (p. 454)

Grindler was also shown in a joint report issued by Chairman of the House Overisight Committee Darrell Issa and Senator Chuck Grassley to be at a minimum incompetent. 

“Given the circumstances surrounding Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry’s death, one would expect Justice Department officials to have some recollection of the event. Instead, Department officials seem to have experienced collective memory loss … Gary Grindler [indicated that he could ‘not recall’ or did ‘not know’] 29 times during his interview with investigators.” (p.103)

 “Acting Deputy Attorney General Gary Grindler took a management approach of delegating tasks and responsibilities to his subordinates and then remaining uninvolved until problems were brought to his attention. This management style insulated him from problems occurring beneath him. Instead of accepting responsibility for his leadership shortcomings, Grindler instead passed the buck to his underlings.” (p.73)

As Christian Adams has said, Grindler also serves as Holder's one degree of separation from the scandal.

After today’s Inspector General Report on Fast and Furious, Democrats are spinning themselves silly that “neither the Attorney General nor senior DOJ officials authorized or approved of gun-walking in Fast and Furious.”  But nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, the most senior DOJ official possible, other than the Attorney General himself, fully complicit in Fast and Furious and the murder of Brian Terry is none other than Attorney General Eric Holder’s Chief of Staff Gary Grindler.

I have repeatedly appeared on Fox News and said Grindler is the person most likely responsible for allowing this mess to continue, and the ensuing cover up.  The report today confirms he is at the center of the mess, and only one degree removed from Eric Holder.

On December 23, 2009, After David Ogden resigned because of unspecified conflict with Holder, Gary Grindler was named Acting Deputy Attorney General.  In January 2010, less than a month later, Fast and Furious was approved via a briefing paper as a prosecutor-led Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) Strike Force case, meaning that ATF would join with the FBI, the DEA, the IRS and ICE, led by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Arizona.

With such an array of DoJ agencies involved, it is highly unlikely that Acting Deputy Attorney General Grindler was not intimately involved with approving, reviewing and monitoring the details of the case.  And, in fact, on March 12, 2010, Grindler visited Arizona and was briefed on Fast and Furious; his handwriting appears all over power point presentation photos of the guns.  At the briefing, Grindler is provided information on the program down to minutiae, including such details as the number of times a particular straw purchaser went in to a “cooperating” gun store and purchased guns.

During that March 12 meeting in Phoenix, Grindler took notes about Operation Fast and Furious and made sure to write down that the guns involved in the case didn't have a long gun reporting measure requirement, something DOJ pushed through by regulation last summer.


On top of taking these notes, Grindler sent countless emails back and forth to ATF agents about Operation Fast and Furious and was well informed about exactly what was going on throughout the course of the program. 

Chairman Issa isn't surprised with Grindler's departure and has released a statement saying he expects many more DOJ officials will also be leaving soon.

“Gary Grindler was appropriately faulted by his Department’s own Inspector General for keeping information about a connection between the murder of a Border Patrol Agent and a mishandled department operation away from the Attorney General and the Department of Homeland Security.  His departure from the Justice Department is warranted and long overdue,” Issa said. “Other figures in Operation Fast and Furious are currently being evaluated for their conduct in the reckless effort that needlessly placed lives in danger.  I expect more departures and discipline to come.”