Chuck Grassley On FoxNews About ATF Changes

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) was interviewed today about the changes at ATF and DOJ by Jenna Lee of Fox News.

While Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) was given a courtesy call by Attorney General Eric Holder about the changes, Grassley was not despite being the Ranking Minority Member on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Common courtesy never has been a strong suit of anyone in the Obama Administration it seems.

Asked about whether DOJ is still stonewalling on the request for documents, Grassley said it has improved but they are still getting many documents that are just black sheets of paper.

Updated Report On Moves At ATF And DOJ By CBS

Sharyl Attkisson had an updated report on the reassignment of Kenneth Melson and the resignation of Dennis Burke. Also revealed in this report is the ATF Senior Agent John Dodson is being transferred from Arizona to South Carolina. While not mentioned in the report, it is my understanding that three out of the four ATF Special Agents who testified before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee have been transferred out of Arizona.

A Roundup Of Interviews From Cam And Company On DOJ Moves

Cam Edwards of NRA News devoted most of the show last night to the big moves at the Department of Justice. Among his guests were Representatives Paul Gosar (R-AZ) and Blake Farenthold (R-TX) both of whom serve on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. He also had Katie Pavlich of and columnist Michelle Malkin on as guests. They have done a great job of reporting on Project Gunwalker over the past months.

First, Rep. Blake Farenthold who noted that the reassignment of Newell, Voth, and McMahon to ATF HQ reminded him of a shell game on a street corner in New York City.

Second up is Rep. Paul Gosar who calls the administrative shuffle of ATF agents and Ken Melson as “bringing them home to the nest” so they can protect them.

Michelle Malkin says the moves yesterday were not a surprise coming from the “master of screwing up and moving up” Eric Holder.

Finally, Katie Pavlich says that the moves are an attempt to buy time by DOJ as they continue to stonewall the Congressional investigation into Project Gunwalker.

Quote Of The Day

The quote of the day comes from Michelle Malkin. It is actually two quotes from her article last night in the New York Post regarding the changes at the Department of Justice made due to Project Gunwalker.

First on the reassignment of Kenneth Melson to a position within the Department of Justice as well as the promotions of Newell, Voth, and McMahon to ATF Headquarters in Washington, DC:

Keep your friends close and your henchmen on the verge of spilling all the beans closer.

The second quote from Malkin is an indictment of the Department of Justice for its handling of Operation Fast and Furious and the fact that only U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke is out of a job:

Screw up, move up, cover up: It’s the Holder way, the Obama way, the Washington way. And innocent Americans pay.

Reactions On Capitol Hill To Melson “Reassignment”

Some in the Obama Administration must have thought that the furor over Project Gunwalker might blow over if Kenneth Melson and Dennis Burke were gone. I don’t think they are going to get their wish.

Rep. Darrell Issa’s statement on resignation of Dennis Burke and the reassignment of Kenneth Melson:

(WASHINGTON) House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) today released the following statement regarding Department of Justice personnel changes involving Arizona U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke, ATF Acting Director Kenneth Melson, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Emory Hurley:

“While the reckless disregard for safety that took place in Operation Fast and Furious certainly merits changes within the Department of Justice, the Oversight and Government Reform Committee will continue its investigation to ensure that blame isn’t offloaded on just a few individuals for a matter that involved much higher levels of the Justice Department. There are still many questions to be answered about what happened in Operation Fast and Furious and who else bears responsibility, but these changes are warranted and offer an opportunity for the Justice Department to explain the role other officials and offices played in the infamous efforts to allow weapons to flow to Mexican drug cartels. I also remain very concerned by Acting Director Melson’s statement that the Department of Justice is managing its response in a manner intended to protect its political appointees. Senator Grassley and I will continue to press the Department of Justice for answers in order to ensure that a reckless effort like Fast and Furious does not take place again.”

While Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) has not issued a statement yet,  Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) did issue one. Cornyn, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, is one of the newer critics of Project Gunwalker as it seems to have spread to his home state of Texas.

WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and former state Attorney General, today responded to reports that Kenneth E. Melson, the acting director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and other Department of Justice officials who oversaw the “Fast and Furious” gun-walking operation, have been reassigned to new positions within the Justice Department:

“Instead of reassigning those responsible for ‘Fast and Furious’ within the Department of Justice, Attorney General Holder should ask for their resignations and come clean on all alleged gun-walking operations, including a detailed response to allegations of a Texas-based scheme.”

Earlier this month, Sen. Cornyn sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder demanding answers following recent press reports of alleged Texas-based “gun-walking” programs similar to the “Fast and Furious” operation currently being investigated by Congressional lawmakers. To date, Attorney General Holder has refused to respond.

The Democrats on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee seem to be rather quiet on the whole change. Nothing is listed on the minority section of the committee’s website nor on Ranking Member Elijah Cummings’ page. Checking the Queen Bee of Gun Control Rep. Carolyn McCarthy’s website and there is nothing there either. Finally, checking Rep. Carolyn Maloney’s site there is no mention of Melson being reassigned either.

UPDATE: Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) represents the 1st District of Arizona. He is also a member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. In what must be a disappointing sign to administration officials, Gosar says the investigation into Project Gunwalker must go forward.

Congressman Gosar’s Statement on Arizona U.S. Attorney Burke’s Resignation and BATFE Acting Director Melson’s Reassignment

Safford, AZ –Congressman Paul Gosar (AZ-01) issued the following statement regarding the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (BATFE) Acting Director Kenneth Melson’s demotion to the Department of Justice Office of Legal Policy, and the resignation of Arizona U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke:

“The resignation of U.S. Attorney Burke and the demotion of Acting ATF Director Melson are only small steps on the long road to accountability for the Department of Justice.  As the only Arizona congressman who serves on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, please be assured I will continue to press the Department of Justice for answers about Operation Fast and Furious.”

“I will not rest until the American people are informed about who authorized the program, who allowed it to continue despite grave misgivings on the part of dedicated ATF agents, and who is responsible for the lack of transparency from DOJ thus far.”

Congressman Paul A. Gosar, a member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, represents Arizona’s First Congressional District.  For more information on Congressman Gosar’s involvement in the investigation into Operations Fast and Furious, please visit

 UPDATE II: The Wall Street Journal’s Washington Wire has some comments by Senator Chuck Grassley on the “reassignment” of Ken Melson and resignation of Dennis Burke.

“There’s a lot of blame to go around. As our investigation moves forward, and we get to the bottom of this policy, I wouldn’t be surprised to see more fall out beyond the resignations and new assignments announced today,” said Sen. Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa)….

Mr. Grassley called the shakeup “an admission by the Obama administration that serious mistakes were made in Operation Fast and Furious, and is a step in the right direction that they are continuing to limit any further damage that people involved in this disastrous strategy can do.”

 UPDATE III: Sen. Chuck Grassley posted the following reaction to today’s events at ATF and DOJ on his website this evening:

Grassley Reacts to New Fall-out from ATF Oversight

Senator Chuck Grassley made the following comment after the resignations and new assignments of several officials involved in the Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives strategy known as Fast and Furious.

“Today’s announcement is an admission by the Obama administration that serious mistakes were made in Operation Fast and Furious, and is a step in the right direction that they are continuing to limit any further damage that people involved in this disastrous strategy can do.

“There’s a lot of blame to go around. As our investigation moves forward, and we get to the bottom of this policy, I wouldn’t be surprised to see more fall out beyond the resignations and new assignments announced today.

“The Justice Department and the ATF have yet to answer a majority of the questions and still must produce many of the documents Congressman Issa and I have asked for. We’re looking for a full accounting from the Justice Department as to who knew what and when, so we can be sure that this ill-advised strategy never happens again.”

Sharyl Attkisson On Changes At ATF

Sharyl Attkisson of CBS News has an on-air report on the changes at ATF today. One of the things she says towards the end of her report was quite interesting. An administration official told CBS that “nobody is naive enough to believe these changes end the controversy but the Department of Justice believes ATF has been bogged down by mistakes made over the past couple of months and desperately needed fresh air and a new start.”

ATF Acting Director Todd Jones Interviewed By Minnesota Public Radio

The new ATF Acting Director B. Todd Jones was interviewed by Minnesota Public Radio today. Jones, who is also the U.S. Attorney for the District of Minnesota and who will continue in that position, was asked if he would like be considered for the position on a full-time basis. He gave an emphatic no in response.

Jones says he plans to take the pulse inside the agency, refocus its energy on law enforcement priorities, and bring stability to the agency.

“They haven’t had a confirmed director at ATF in almost six years,” Jones said. “I will be the fifth acting director at ATF and that lack of stability takes its toll on an organization and I go into this knowing full well that there’s a lot of work to do.”

The full interview can be heard by clicking on the embedded link below.

CCRKBA Says Holder Should Have Resigned Instead

Alan Gottlieb doesn’t mince words. He says that Eric Holder should have resigned instead of engaging in a “shell game” of reassignment.


Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

BELLEVUE, WA – Today’s replacement of Kenneth Melson as acting head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is a political charade by the man who really ought to tender his resignation, the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms said today. That man is Attorney General Eric Holder.

CCRKBA Chairman Alan Gottlieb called for Holder’s resignation after this morning’s announcements that Melson was being “reassigned” and replaced. This action appears to be an attempt by Holder to convince people he is taking action in response to the Fast and Furious scandal, now being investigated by Congress.

“Holder is just moving deck chairs on the Titanic,” Gottlieb stated. “Today’s announcements will do nothing to restore America’s confidence in the BATF or the Justice Department so long as Eric Holder remains the Attorney General.

“The ultimate responsibility for Fast and Furious lies with Holder,” he continued. “Melson is just the latest player to be shifted around, rather than lose his job. Everyone directly involved in the Fast and Furious scandal has simply been moved to another position. There has been no discipline and no accountability, because the man who should be ultimately accountable is still running the Justice Department.”

Gottlieb called today’s announcement “self-serving” for Holder, who is “looking out for his own interests.”

“That’s the only thing that is really transparent about this entire administration,” Gottlieb observed. “They are looking out for themselves, and playing administrative games when they should step up to the plate and accept responsibility for this scandal. Several people have been moved from the ATF office in Phoenix to other jobs, especially in Washington, D.C. because of Fast and Furious.

“If there had not been significant wrong-doing,” he said, “none of these moves would have been made. This is an admission of guilt by the Obama administration without saying so. And where is the president in all of this? Maybe he’s hiding out on the ninth hole of a golf course.”

Burke Out As U.S. Attorney For Arizona

Dennis Burke, the U.S. Attorney for Arizona and a protege’ of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, is out as U.S. Attorney. The release below does not indicate whether he was fired or whether he resigned. However, the Arizona Republic is reporting that it is a resignation. Combined with the reassignment of Ken Melson, I would speculate that the Obama Administration and Attorney General Eric Holder are hoping this will take attention away from Project Gunwalker by making Melson and Burke the fall guys.

Burke and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Arizona have been in the thick of Project Gunwalker since the start as numerous emails released by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) have shown.

Statement of Attorney General Eric Holder on the Resignation of U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona Dennis Burke

WASHINGTON – Attorney General Eric Holder issued the following statement today on the resignation of U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona Dennis Burke:

“United States Attorney Dennis Burke has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to the Department of Justice and the U.S. Attorney’s office, first as a line prosecutor over a decade ago and more recently as United States Attorney.

“Under his leadership, the office has made great progress in its pursuit of justice with the creation of special units focusing on civil rights enforcement and rule of law, as well as more robust outreach to key communities, particularly in Indian Country. The office’s quick response to the devastating shootings in January that claimed the lives of several people and critically injured Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was crucial in arresting and charging the alleged shooter.

“I am grateful to Dennis for his dedication and service to the Department of Justice over these many years and commend his decision to place the interests of the U.S. Attorney’s office above all else.”

The story about Burke’s resignation in the Arizona Republic which I mention above has an interesting comment from former U.S. Senator Dennis DeConcini (D-AZ) about the resignation.

Former Arizona Sen. Dennis DeConcini said if the resignation is tied to Fast and Furious, it would be a misguided effort to lay blame on Burke.

“If his resignation is tied to Fast and Furious, it’s ridiculous. It would be absolutely outrageous for ‘Justice Main’ to take it out on Dennis and make him the fall guy,” DeConcini said. “It’s just typical Washington cronyism. It just shows you how incompetent government can be to save themselves. It appears they screwed up, based on congressional hearings.”

Laurie Roberts, a columnist for the Arizona Republic, had this to say about Burke’s resignation which appears to be forced.

Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar, who sits on the committee investigating Fast and Furious, has told me that he believes the responsibility for this lies at the top, in the office of Eric Holder or someplace nearby.

This move to dump Burke — who oversaw the operation — looks like an effort to make this mess go away.

My bet: it won’t happen. And it shouldn’t, not until the complete story is told.

FoxNews reports that Burke gave testimony to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee last week which didn’t go well.

U.S. Attorney for Arizona Dennis Burke, one of the officials closely tied to Fast and Furious, is also a casualty in a shakeup tied to the botched gun-running program. Burke was on the hot seat last week with congressional investigators and, according to several sources, got physically sick during questioning and could not finish his session.

Bob Owens, at Confederate Yankee, speculates that Burke resigned to save his own skin.

Burke is the same slimeball that blocked Brian Terry’s family from being recognized as crime victims in court after Terry was murdered and two Fast and Furious weapons were recovered at the scene of his death.

The only plausible reason Burke would have done that was an attempt to limit his own legal exposure and that of the government as it relates to investigations about Agent Terry’s murder.

Bob also thinks it looks like Grassley, Issa, and Cornyn have painted the Obama Administration into a corner which I agree with. However, I think we need to keep a really close eye on Obama and Holder now as, like any cornered animal, they are more dangerous when back into a corner.