Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ Justice Department signed on Wednesday to House Republicans’ efforts to secure the release of documents related to the Eric Holder era “Fast and Furious” gun-walking scandal.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) announced it would begin producing “additional documents related to Operation “Fast and Furious” after reaching a “conditional settlement agreement” with the House Oversight Committee, which has been suing to force the release of these documents since 2012.
“The conditional settlement agreement, filed in federal court in Washington D.C., would end six years of litigation arising out of the previous administration’s refusal to produce documents requested by the Committee,” a DOJ press release explained.
“The Department of Justice under my watch is committed to transparency and the rule of law. This settlement agreement is an important step to make sure that the public finally receives all the facts related to Operation Fast and Furious,” Sessions said in the press release.
The agreement comes as Republicans on the Oversight Committee continue their push to investigate what they see as potential corruption and politicization in the decision to pursue the ill-fated Fast and Furious. These efforts have led the Oversight Committee to butt heads with DOJ in the past.
The retired former chair of that committee, Jason Chaffetz, apparently believed that friction continued in Sessions’s term. He went so far as to call Attorney General Sessions out on Twitter last week:
I met with AG Sessions to get the Fast & Furious documents. He said NO and decided to let it continue to play out in court. Frustrating and disappointing to say the least. @realDonaldTrump #FastAndFurious https://t.co/0rRaSAskC8
— Jason Chaffetz (@jasoninthehouse) March 3, 2018
Chaffetz, who resigned last year, has been an avowed foe of Sessions for months. Immediately before the agreement to release the documents was announced, at a point it must have been already completed, he told Fox News that “nothing has changed” at DOJ since the Holder era – when Chaffetz held Holder in contempt for not turning over certain Fast and Furious documents – and that Sessions “has to go:”
— Jason Chaffetz (@jasoninthehouse) March 7, 2018
Fast and Furious, the scheme by which Obama era Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) agents deliberately allowed guns to flow towards Mexican cartels only to lose track of them, negating any purpose of the investigation, created a permanent stain on Attorney General Eric Holder’s term in office, particularly after it was revealed one of the Fast and Furious guns was used to murder Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry.
Chaffetz’s expression of dissatisfaction with Sessions’s handling of the Fast and Furious documents came as part of a wider outpouring of criticism of the AG’s leadership. It remains to be seen if the agreement to release the documents will sooth these critics.