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Justice Dept.: Issa ‘Distorted the Facts’ in Fast and Furious Inquiry
Posted By Elizabeth Murphy On June 11, 2012 @ 5:35 pm In News | Comments Disabled
The Justice Department shot back at Rep. Darrell Issa on Monday, saying his pursuit  of contempt of Congress charges against Attorney General Eric Holder over Operation Fast and Furious is just another chapter in Washington’s “tired political playbook.”
“From the beginning, Chairman Issa has distorted the facts, ignored testimony and flung inaccurate accusations at the Attorney General and others, and this latest move fits within that tired political playbook that has so many Americans disillusioned with Washington,” Justice Department spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler said in a statement. “The Committee has ignored the fundamental – and undeniable — facts that this Attorney General put a stop to the misguided tactics, called for an investigation of this flawed operation and instituted reforms to prevent this from happening again.”
The California Republican announced  Monday that the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform would vote on a contempt citation against the attorney general next week. The measure concerns Justice Department documents related to the failed gun-tracing operation the panel has subpoenaed. Issa is seeking thousands of additional documents from the department, but Holder has said that handing over certain information could harm the integrity  of certain ongoing investigations and prosecutions.
Schmaler said the vote is “unwarranted” given the discussions between the department and committee staff in an attempt to resolve the matter.
“As recently as a few days ago, the Department staff and Committee staff were discussing a way toward a resolution of this matter,” Schmaler said. “The Attorney General and the Department of Justice will remain focused on the critical job of protecting this nation and the American people while Chairman Issa continues to play these political games at the expense of all Americans.”
Deputy Attorney General James Cole sent Issa a letter this afternoon, saying that the news that a hearing on a vote had been scheduled came as a surprise. He said that department and committee staff had met twice recently to attempt to resolve remaining issues.
“The conversations between our staffs have been productive and we believe that an amicable resolution of these matters is achievable,” Cole wrote. “Because of this, the committee’s decision to set a hearing on its draft contempt resolution is premature.”
Fast and Furious was a failed gun-walking operation headed by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. It aimed to track some-2,000 guns sold to straw-buyers in an attempt to follow any possible sales to Mexican cartel members. But the operation backfired, and the bureau lost track of hundreds of guns. Two firearms from the operation were found at the scene of a shootout between U.S. Border Patrol agents and Mexican bandits in 2010. Border Agent Brian Terry was killed in the gunfire.
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