Although Jason Weinstein lost his job as a Deputy Assistant Attorney General over the fallout from Operation Fast and Furious, he has not lost his respect with colleagues in the DOJ, or in Baltimore, where the former Assistant U.S. Attorney is recalled as a super tough crime fighter. Nor has he stopped insisting that he was blamed unfairly for the gun-tracking operation that went bad.
“I’ve devoted my career…to keeping guns out of the hands of criminals and reducing violence,” Weinstein said in an interview with The Baltimore Sun.
Notwithstanding the failures of Fast and Furious, Attorney General Eric Holder has weighed in on behalf of Weinstein. “The American people are safer because of his work,” Holder said.
And Rod Rosenstein, the U.S. Attorney for Maryland, praised Weinstein’s “superb” legal skills and “boundless energy,” The Sun noted.
Weinstein resigned last week (see Main Justice’s report), immediately after DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz issued a scathing report on Fast and Furious, the gun-tracking operation run by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives that went badly awry. Although Weinstein sharply disputed the IG’s findings that he bore heavy responsibility for the operation’s failures, he said he knew someone had to take the blame.
Weinstein’s campaign against violent crime in Baltimore was described as “legendary” by Rep. Elijah Cummings of Baltimore. Not only did Weinstein bring federal resources to bear against street crime during his seven years in the U.S. Attorney’s office, he did so while actually improving relations between federal authorities and the city police, according to The Sun.
“While in Baltimore, Weinstein prosecuted some of the most high-profile cases of the last decade,” The Sun noted. Former Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III and others who worked with Weinstein said he had “a mastery of detail and an intimate knowledge of city violence,” The Sun recalled.
The supportive words from Cummings, the ranking Democrat on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, are in stark contrast to those of the panel’s chairman, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), a frequent critic of the DOJ and Fast and Furious in particular, who has accused Holder and his “inner circle” of recklessly disregarding “red flags” that Fast and Furious was going off the rails.
That “inner circle” included Weinstein, who was Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer’s top aide in the Criminal Division.
Meanwhile, relatives of Brian Terry, a border patrol agent whose shooting death has been linked to Fast and Furious, continue to press for more firings or forced resignations at the DOJ.