Sen. Charles Grassley is demanding answers about a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives memo sent to the Justice Department about Fast and Furious just one day before the department denied to Congress that gun-walking tactics were being used.
The department sent the Iowa Republican a letter on Feb. 4, 2011, indicating it did not know officials were allowing guns to “walk.” But the department may have known about the tactics on Feb. 3, Grassley contends.
“The possibility that DOJ was aware of this memorandum on February 3, 2011, and still sent the erroneous letter to Congress on February 4, 2011, raises more questions about DOJ’s claim that faulty information from Department components inadvertently led to the false letter,” the lawmaker said. “This was direct, documented information from street level agents in a far better position to know the facts than the senior supervisory personnel whom DOJ claims to have relied upon for information about the allegations.”
Grassley has asked the department to answer questions regarding the memo (see exhibit 2) by no later than July 17.
“Have all records relating to the February 3, 2011, memorandum been gathered and preserved by the Justice Department?” he asked. “Which DOJ personnel were aware of the memorandum before the February 4, 2011 reply was sent to me?”
The lawmaker alleges the department should have been “abundantly aware” of the use of gun-walking before Feb. 4, 2011. The Justice Department drew ire from Republicans after formally withdrawing its Feb. 4, 2011, letter sent to Congress, leading some GOP lawmakers to suspect a cover-up of some kind. The escalation of the conflict led to the full House voting to find Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress.