WASHINGTON, DC – Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan agrees with presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s call for Attorney General Eric Holder to resign, or for President Barack Obama to fire him, over Operation Fast and Furious, a Ryan spokesman told The Daily Caller.
“The congressman agrees with the governor,” Ryan spokesman Brendan Buck told TheDC on Sunday, referring to Mitt Romney’s call for Holder’s resignation or termination over the gunwalking scandal last December.
“Either Mr. Holder himself should resign, or the president should ask for his resignation or remove him,” Romney said in December 2011. “It’s unacceptable for him to continue in that position now given the fact that he has misled Congress and entirely botched the investigation of the Fast and Furious program.”
Ryan’s call for Holder’s ouster over Fast and Furious comes a day after he told a sportsmen’s group that gun owners should be worried about Obama trying to infringe on their Second Amendment rights if he is re-elected. Speaking about Fast and Furious specifically, Ryan said at the Saturday event that such an operation “would never occur under a Romney-Ryan administration,” according to CBS News,
Ryan now becomes the 131st House GOP member to demand Holder’s resignation over the scandal.
Fast and Furious was a program of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, overseen by Holder’s Department of Justice. It sent thousands of weapons to Mexican drug cartels via straw purchasers — people who purchased guns in the United States with the known intention of illegally trafficking them somewhere else.
Fast and Furious guns were used to kill U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry on Dec. 14, 2010, in Peck Canyon, Ariz.
Others whose murders have been connected to Fast and Furious weapons include Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agent Jaime Zapata and Mexican citizen Mario Gonzalez. Gonzalez’s sister, Patricia Gonzalez, was the state prosecutor for the Mexican state of Chihuahua.
The Spanish-language television network Univision has discovered information suggesting that more people were murdered with Fast and Furious weapons, including those it decsribed as “16 young people attending a party in a residential area of Ciudad Juárez in January of 2010.” Mexican government officials have estimated that at least 300 people in Mexico were killed with Fast and Furious weapons.
The Spanish-language television network has pressed the Obama administration on Fast and Furious, most recently with Univision anchor Jorge Ramos grilling Obama in an interview over the scandal and asking him why he hasn’t “fired” Holder. During the interview, Obama made at least one false statement relating to Fast and Furious and many others of questionable veracity.
Congressional investigators from the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and the Senate Judiciary Committee have been probing Fast and Furious since early 2011. The investigation has been marked by what appears to be a massive Obama administration cover up. On Feb. 4, 2011, the DOJ sent congressional investigators a false letter flatly denying guns were ever allowed to walk. Justice later withdrew that letter.
Holder has failed to comply with a subpoena congressional House oversight committee chairman Rep. Darrell Issa served to him in October 2011. Of the more than 100,000 documents in his possession relating to Operation Fast and Furious, Holder has turned over less than 8,000 documents to Congress.
The attorney general’s failure to comply with the subpoena prompted the House of Representatives to vote him in criminal and civil contempt of Congress in a bipartisan vote.
As the congressional investigation has progressed, the Department of Justice’s internal Office of Inspector General has conducted its own investigation. Despite claims from Holder that a recently released report from DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz “exonerates” or “clears” him from responsibility for Fast and Furious, Horowitz testified before Congress that his report does not clear Holder.
Horowitz told the House oversight committee that his team found that almost everyone inside Holder’s inner circle knew about the nefarious aspects of Fast and Furious and that Holder should have known about it, even if his investigation found no evidence that he did.
“We found, as we outlined in the report, we struggle to understand how an operation of this size, of this importance, that impacted another country like it did, could not have been briefed up to the attorney general of the United States,” Horowitz said. “It should have been, in our view. It was that kind of a case.”
Top Obama DOJ officials who have not been held accountable for their roles in Fast and Furious, according to Congress and the inspector general, include Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer, who runs DOJ’s criminal division, and Holder Chief of Staff Gary Grindler. Grindler was promoted from deputy attorney general to his current position about two weeks after Terry was murdered. Grindler was informed of the murder’s connection to Fast and Furious the night Terry was shot to death.
Though the Obama administration provided more information about Fast and Furious to Horowitz for his investigation than to Congress, the White House obstructed his investigation as well.
Former White House National Security Council staffer Kevin O’Reilly — who was intimately involved in Fast and Furious planning with Phoenix ATF officials, according to emails obtained throughout the congressional investigation — has since been reassigned by the Department of State to a detail in Iraq. Obama administration officials have refused to make O’Reilly available to congressional investigators, or to Horowitz’s internal DOJ investigation.
In their report, Horowitz’s team also wrote that “[t]he White House did not produce to us any internal White House communications.”
Horowitz said the Department of Homeland Security also impeded his investigation, citing an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agent “who was assigned to Operation Fast and Furious on a full time basis [but] declined our request for a voluntary interview.”
That ICE agent, he added, requested immunity from prosecution and declined to be interviewed unless it was granted.
“There was an agent from the Department of Homeland Security that was assigned to the operation,” Horowitz said during a congressional hearing on Sept. 20.
“As part of our effort to be thorough and interview all people who might have relevant information, we reached out. He, again, is outside the Department of Justice, so he declined our voluntary request to be interviewed by us.
“We sought through the Department of Homeland Security to speak to him, and we understood that, absent being compelled — and given immunity — that he would not speak voluntarily. That request was declined, is my understanding.”
Horowitz and congressional investigators plan to continue their respective investigations.