Once Lamar Smith (R-TX) opened the hearings with comments on Fast and Furious and then passed the baton to Congressman John Conyers (D-MI), it seemed the hearings would be a wash. That’s because it was evident from the start that Conyers was there to carry water for Holder. For example, Conyers used his opening comments to highlight the “life and contributions” of Holder, and to highlight the need for more gun control in the United States. He particularly supported the new requirement for border state gun stores to file special reports on customers who make multiple long gun purchases. (Conyers made no mention of the thousands of long guns transferred to criminals via the DOJ/ATF operation Fast and Furious.)
Congressman Bobby Scott (D-VA) used his opening comments to call for more gun control, and was particularly critical of concealed handgun laws and of Republican support of concealed handgun laws. Moreover, Scott actually defended Holder by blaming gun walking on President Bush. (For the record, there was an operation called Wide Receiver under Bush, but it was very small and was done in conjunction with the Mexican government rather than by keeping the Mexican government in the dark as Holder did with Fast and Furious.)
Folks, the whole tone of the hearing changed when Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA) was allowed to make his opening statement. He contented that gun control was not the important matter before the committee. Rather, “what is important is the 2nd Amendment.” Added Issa, “ATF Used Fast and Furious to make case for gun regulations”
After this opening salvo, Issa was on a roll:
This administration is more interested in building data bases, in talking about control, than controlling the flow of guns they had control over. …[Fast and Furious] was not an accident. This project was failed and flawed from the beginning.
Issa went on to make the point that “Brian Terry is dead today because of this program,” yet Holder and Co. are hesitant to investigate Terry’s murder for fear of uncovering their own culpability to a greater degree. Said Issa: “This justice department is not looking for who killed Brian Terry” in order to preserve their own “plausible deniability.”
The president has said he has full confidence in this attorney general. I have not confidence in a president who has not terminated those…who knew enough to stop this program. …Mr. attorney general, the blame must go to your desk. Why haven’t you terminated the many people involved?
Once the opening comments were over, and the actual hearing began, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) warned Holder that he was tired of not getting the truth on Fast and Furious. He complained that up till now, Holder’s answers had been “gees, somebody else did it.”
Sensenbrenner then basically said we can do this the easy way or the hard way. He told Holder that the A.G. could either give Congress the truth they were asking for or “impeachment” could be pursued.
That’s right: Sensenbrenner said “impeachment” to Holder’s face.