Eric Holder has now tried to retract a statement he made that his predecessor Michael Mukasey, the Attorney General under George W. Bush, knew about gunwalking in the Fast and Furious scandal and did nothing to stop it. Holder claims that his statement about Mukasey was “inadvertent.”
Holder’s response came after Senator Charles Grassley confronted him in a letter on June 14. Grassley noted that Holder’s claim on June 12 regarding Mukasey came after Senator John Cornyn called for Holder’s resignation:
“Dear Attorney General Holder:
Tuesday, in response to Senator Cornyn’s call for your resignation, you responded, in part, with the following statement:
If you want to talk about Fast and Furious, I’m the Attorney General that put an end to the misguided tactics that were used in Fast and Furious. An Attorney General who I suppose you would hold in higher regard was briefed on these kinds of tactics in an operation called Wide Receiver and did nothing to stop them – nothing. Three hundred guns, at least, walked in that instance.
This is a serious charge. However, as far as I’m aware, the Justice Department has produced nothing to date that indicates any former Attorney General was briefed on Operation Wide Receiver.
I am aware that the Justice Department produced a memorandum to Attorney General Mukasey in preparation for a November 16, 2007, meeting with Mexican Attorney General Medina Mora. At no point does this memo mention Operation Wide Receiver, in which over 300 guns were allowed to walk to Mexico. Instead, the memo appears to refer to a case called Hernandez, which involved a planned controlled delivery – not intentional gunwalking.
If the Justice Department has documentation about Operation Wide Receiver which it has not yet produced and which indicate a higher level of awareness of gunwalking than has previously been indicated, such evidence should be produced immediately. Given the gravity of these allegations, I would appreciate a response by Monday, June 18, 2012.
The office of the Assistant Attorney General responded on June 18, barely under Grassley’s deadline:
Attorney General Holder’s testimony referred to briefing paper prepared for Attorney General Mukasey in advance of a November 16, 2007 meeting with the Mexican attorney general … As we explained in a letter to Chairman Issa on March 16, 2012, and as you note, this briefing paper concerned the case of Fidel Hernandez, not Wide Receiver as the Attorney General inadvertently stated at the hearing.”
Hmm. Holder claims that his blame of Mukasey was inadvertent?
Then how does he explain this: on June 7, Holder even more clearly stated that Mukasey knew about gunwalking. Speaking to Rep. Louie Gohmert in a House Judiciary oversight hearing on the Department of Justice, Holder had this exchange with Gohmert:
MR. GOHMERT: “Did you ever go back to your office and say when you found out about Fast and Furious –I demand to know who authorized this? Are things so fast and loose in your office that somebody can authorize the sale to international criminals of American guns that are bringing about the death of even American agents, and no one has to do that in writing?”
ATTORNEY GENERAL HOLDER: “What I did do, I asked the inspector general to conduct an investigation. I put an end to the policy that led to the Fast and Furious debacle. I made personnel changes at ATF and in the U.S. Attorney’s Office. We made changes in the procedures there. And that is in stark contrast to what happened to my predecessor Attorney General Mukasey when he was briefed about the transmission of guns to Mexico and, as far as I can tell, did far less than what I did.”
Holder is backtracking furiously, knowing he has no evidence with which to blame Mukasey. And for him to claim that he made these charges inadvertently is palpably false; he made them twice, on June 7 and June 12.
Holder has been caught with his pants down. His brazen attempt to deflect responsibility has backfired. And his boss, by refusing to release documents, is covering for him.