Attorney General Eric Holder and Rep. Darrel Issa (R-Calif.) are scheduled to meet this evening at 5 p.m. to review previously undisclosed Operation Fast and Furious documents, as the 11th hour draws near on a vote of contempt of Congress against the Attorney General.
Issa has said that he is willing to delay the vote if the Attorney General meets the demands of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee’s subpoena for the botched gun-tracing operation documents. But as of 4 p.m. Tuesday, Issa said the department has not yet provided his staff with any documents ahead of the evening meeting.
“Only the delivery of documents outlined and offered by the Justice Department last Thursday will be justified to schedule a postponement of Wednesday’s [contempt] vote,” the lawmaker said in a letter to Holder Monday night.
On Monday, Holder told Issa that the department was prepared to brief him on how Operation Fast and Furious “evolved” after Justice Department leadership became aware of the use of controversial gun-walking tactics. The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has scheduled a vote on the contempt measure for Wednesday morning.
Last week, Issa told Holder a “serious proposal” was needed to avoid a contempt vote. Last year, the committee subpoenaed Holder for more than 1,300 pages of documents relating to the gun-walking investigation as part of a congressional inquiry into the department’s handling of the operation. Holder has refused to provide a number of documents, saying that doing so would compromise the integrity of ongoing criminal investigations.
Tuesday’s meeting suggests the two are ready to compromise as the looming contempt vote approaches. Reports indicate that Issa may not have the support of Republican leadership in the House, which would severely cripple his attempt to hold the Attorney General in contempt of Congress.
Operation Fast and Furious was an investigation run by the Arizona U.S. Attorney’s office and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosive. ATF agents allowed Mexican straw-buyers to collect guns along the Mexico-Arizona border. The agents tracked the guns, hoping to gain intelligence as some firearms flowed to Mexico’s dangerous drug cartels. The operation backfired, however, and hundreds of guns were lost. Two were found at the scene of Border Patrol agent Brian Terry’s death. Terry died in a shootout between Mexican bandits and Border Patrol agents in 2010.