Issa Hearing to Focus on Constitution, Not on Guns and Smuggling
By Andrew Ramonas | June 7, 2011 12:38 pm

Experts on congressional investigations and constitutional law–not on guns and smuggling–will take center stage Monday at the first House Oversight Committee hearing on a controversial Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives gun smuggling program.

Charles Tiefer, a former chief litigator for the House; Morton Rosenberg, a former expert at the Congressional Research Service, who studied congressional oversight privileges; and Todd Tatelman, a Congressional Research Service legislative attorney, are slated to testify in the hearing on Operation Fast and Furious, which allowed guns to fall into the hands of Mexican drug cartels in an effort to track them. The hearing is titled, “Obstruction of Justice:  Does the Justice Department Have to Respond to a Lawfully Issued and Valid Congressional Subpoena?”

Officials from the Justice Department or the ATF, a DOJ agency, aren’t scheduled to testify at the hearing. Issa told Fox News on Sunday that he intends to hold more than one hearing on the ATF program this summer.

A spokeswoman for House Oversight Committee Democrats, led by Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, didn’t have an immediate comment for Main Justice.

Issa and Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa, the top Senate Judiciary Committee Republican, have requested numerous documents and records from the DOJ about the ATF program. But they have expressed frustration with what they see as a lack of cooperation by the Department.

The House chairman has threatened that he will try to hold ATF officials in contempt of Congress because they have not responded to his queries. Grassley has warned that he may hold up DOJ nominees to show his disappointment with the Department. The members of Congress also sent congressional investigators to Arizona as part of their investigation into the program.

Firearms connected to the program were found near the body of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, who was killed in Arizona in December. Guns tied to Operation Fast and Furious also were recovered by authorities in Mexico investigating drug cartel suspects who fired at Mexican military helicopters last month, forcing one to land.

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