Trey Gowdy On Cunningham’s Plan To Take The 5th

Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) was interviewed by Ginny Simone of NRA News yesterday. The first topic that came up was the plans for AUSA Patrick Cunningham, head of the criminal section of the US Attorney’s Office in Arizona, to refuse to answer questions from the House Oversight Committee because it might incriminate him.

Asked his reaction, Gowdy said his first reaction was stunned silence “which is pretty hard to accomplish with a Member of Congress.” He goes on to say that he never thought he’d see a Federal prosecutor take the Fifth Amendment. Gowdy served as a Federal prosecutor himself for six years earlier in his career.

Issa Issues Subpoena To Head Of Criminal Division Of US Attorney’s Office In AZ (update)

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, announced that his committee has subpoenaed Patrick J. Cunningham of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Arizona. Mr. Cunningham is the Chief of the Criminal Division of that office.

Issa Subpoenas Criminal Division Chief from Arizona U.S. Attorney’s Office

WASHINGTON, DC – House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) today announced the issuance of a subpoena to Patrick J. Cunningham, Chief of the Criminal Division in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Arizona. Mr. Cunningham’s repeated refusals to testify voluntarily have forced the Committee to use compulsory process.

“During the course of our investigation, the Committee has learned of the outsized role played by the Arizona U.S. Attorney’s Office – and you specifically – in approving the unacceptable tactics used in Fast and Furious,” Chairman Issa wrote to Cunningham in a letter informing him of the subpoena. “Senior Justice Department officials have recently told the Committee that you relayed inaccurate and misleading information to the Department in preparation for its initial response to Congress.

“These officials told us that even after Congress began investigating Fast and Furious, you continued to insist that no unacceptable tactics were used. In fact, documents obtained confidentially just last week appear to confirm that you remained steadfast in your belief that no unacceptable tactics were used, even after the Department’s initial response to the congressional inquiry. Given that the Attorney General has labeled these tactics as unacceptable and Fast and Furious as ‘fundamentally flawed,’ this position is startling.”

The subpoena requires Cunningham to appear on Tuesday, January 24, 2012 for a deposition.

It will be interesting to see if the Department of Justice will try to fight this subpoena or will they throw Cunningham under the bus like they did former U.S. Attorney for Arizona Dennis Burke.

According to the letter Issa sent to Cunningham informing him of the subpoena, Cunningham had been scheduled to be voluntarily interviewed by the Committee today and had indicated a willingness to cooperate with the Committee as late as last Friday. To me, his sudden refusal to cooperate would seem to indicate either he has a lot to hide or someone on Holder’s staff at DOJ made him an offer he couldn’t refuse. This one will be interesting to follow.

UPDATE: According to a letter released by Patrick Cunningham’s attorney, he will be taking “the 5th” when he appears before the Committee in response to their subpoena. William LaJeunesse has more on it here.

As I said yesterday, this one will be interesting to follow!

UPDATE II: I’ve had time to read and digest the letter from Mr. Cunningham’s attorney Tobin Romero of the DC law firm Williams and Connolly. Williams and Connolly is ranked as the best white collar defense firm in the United States by the Vault Guide.

Romero asserts that Cunningham is caught in a struggle between the DOJ and the Oversight Committee. Moreover, he says he acted in good faith and did nothing wrong. The draft language he submitted to the DOJ for their response to the Committee in February was approved and then not used by the DOJ.

The most interesting part – other than saying that Cunningham will plead the Fifth – is an indication that he is being thrown under the bus by DOJ.

According to your letter, Department of Justice officials ahve reported to the Committee that my client relayed inaccurate information to the Department upon which it relied in preparing its initial response to Congress. If, as you claim, Department officials have blamed my client, they have blamed him unfairly.