BREAKING on Fast and Furious: Cunningham Agrees to Appear Before Issa's Committee, Will Take the 5th

Yesterday, I had a post on Big Government which focused on a subpoena Rep. Darrell Issa had sent to Patrick J. Cunningham, Chief of the Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Arizona. In both the subpoena and a letter accompanying it, Issa made two complaints: 1. That Cunningham had theretofore refused to voluntarily testify before the House Oversight Committee, and 2. That members of the DOJ had informed Issa that some of their inaccuracies in testimony were due to false information they’d been provided by Cunningham.

The subpoena demanded Cunningham testify before the committee on January 24, 2012. And yesterday, Cunningham’s attorney, Tobin J. Romero, made it known that although his client will show up as demanded, he will not be providing any information to Issa and the rest of the committee.

Here’s an excerpt from Romero’s letter:

My client, Patrick Cunningham, has spent his entire 32-year career in government service, including as a JAG officer in the United States Army, as a state court prosecutor, and as a federal prosecutor. He also served on the State Bar of Arizona’s Committee on Rules of Professional Conduct (Ethics Committee) from 1995 to 2002. When he returned to the United States Attorney’s Office in 2010, he did so to advance the law enforcement interests of the United States. Regrettably, he now finds himself caught in the middle of a dispute between the Legislative Branch and the Executive Branch, with both, according to the allegations in your letter, finding it convenient to make accusations that are inconsistent with the documentary evidence and the public record.

The body of the letter then highlights how Cunningham had, in fact, not knowingly provided inaccurate information to the DOJ (according to Romero). It also addresses the charge that Cunningham “approved…unacceptable tactics used in Fast and Furious” by asserting that this charge has not been backed up with documentation by the House Oversight Committee, and then hints at the fear that others may be positioning Cunningham as a fall guy for the Fast and Furious debacle.

Therefore, Romero wrote:

As a professional courtesy, and to avoid needless preparation for the Committee and its staff for a deposition next week, I am writing to advise you that my client is going to assert his constitutional privilege not to be compelled to be a witness against himself.

Last night, as a guest on NRA Radio’s Cam & Company, Cam and I discussed this very issue. We talked about whether or not Cunningham was being set up as a scapegoat for others who are much higher up the food chain in the Fast and Furious saga. Personally, I’m still not sure. However, it certainly is a possibility, and it’s clearly one that his attorney is using to justify his client’s silence on the gun-running scheme.


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