Another day of testimony from Attorney General Eric Holder, another day of stonewalling Congress. Thursday afternoon, the embattled Holder answered questions from members of the House Judiciary Committee. Starting out, Chairman Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) asked him directly who in the Department of Justice knew about the gun walking used in Operation Fast & Furious.
“Mr. Attorney General, who is the highest ranking official in this administration that knew that these tactics were being used?” asked Chairman Smith. Mr. Holder never directly answered. Instead, he asserted that the operation started in Arizona and the US Attorney and ATF office there knew. After trying a few more times, Chairman Smith moved on.
Later on, Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) began an explosive exchange with Mr. Holder. Issa asked Holder if the DOJ produced documents internally about Fast & Furious, and, of course, Mr. Holder dodged the question. Chairman Issa responded with visible irritation.
“No, Mr. Attorney General, you are not a good witness. A good witness answers the question asked. So let’s go back again. Have you and your attorneys produced internally the materials responsive?” said Chairman Issa.
While the Chairman tried to get a coherent answer from Mr. Holder, Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX) decided to turn his time into a circus. She interrupted him to ask Chairman Smith to allow Mr. Holder to answer the question. Chairman Smith said he would be allowed and added Mr. Holder would have more time to do that if there weren’t any interruptions. After that was settled and Chairman Issa asked for his time back, Rep. Watt decided to butt in with a request about time being allowed or given back.
Chairman Issa also revealed he was given the wiretap applications by whistleblowers because they are tired of Mr. Holder’s stonewalling. While trying to ask Mr. Holder a question, Rep. Watt kept interrupting Chairman Issa. Every time Issa opened his mouth, he was interrupted. All he wanted to know was if the senior officials who signed the wiretaps, like Deputy Assistant Attorney General Jason Weinstein, were responsible for the wiretap applications. When Mr. Holder was able to answer, he deflected and didn’t give a yes or no response.
The Democrats gave Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) the same treatment. Rep Chaffetz asked Mr. Holder if he would meet with him and other members of Congress privately to discuss the wiretaps & other evidence and why they came to different conclusions. He explained that five minutes during these hearings is not enough time. Mr. Holder said no.
In order to persuade Mr. Holder, Rep. Chaffetz read an email from Mr. Weinstein that is about Fast & Furious. Mr. Holder deflected, insisting the email was about Operation Wide Receiver, despite the text of the message specifically referencing Fast & Furious. Despite this proof of reaching different conclusions, Mr. Holder still did not agree to meet personally with any of the congressmen.