Go Darrell!

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) is questioning the amount of money that the White House spends on certain events such as state dinners for leaders from Mexico and India. To illustrate what he considers excessive spending, Issa has released the following video.

I say, “Go Darrell!” If Obama wants to pontificate about being responsible and being frugal, he needs to be called out on it.

Is the timing somewhat political? Probably but I can live with that.

Request For DOJ IG To Investigate Zapata Murder

Sharyl Attkisson of CBS News is reporting this afternoon that Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) have sent a letter to Michael Horowitz, the Department of Justice Inspector General, requesting that he investigate the murder of Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agent Jaime Zapata. The murder weapons used in Zapata’s death have been traced to guns that ATF allowed to be walked.

According to the letter, ATF may have had probable cause to arrest
two firearms dealers before they bought and trafficked a weapon used to
murder Zapata, who was on assignment in Mexico. “Only after Agent Zapata
was murdered…and one of the weapons was traced back” to suspect
Otilio Osorio “did ATF finally arrest Otilio, his brother and a third
suspect for their gun trafficking activity,” reads the letter.

investigators say ATF had earlier witnessed the Osorio brothers in a
Walmart parking lot providing 40 weapons with obliterated serial numbers
to be trafficked to Mexico. It was what’s known as a “controlled
delivery,” meaning law enforcement officials were monitoring the sale.
In this case it was part of a joint investigation with the Drug
Enforcement Administration (DEA). But “ATF failed to confront the two
individuals” leaving them to continue to allegedly traffic weapons,
including one used in Zapata’s killing, according to the letter.

The DOJ IG’s office is said to be reviewing the request.

The Oversight Committee Hearings Today

I was tied up with work all day and wasn’t able to break away to watch the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing. They held a hearing today on DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s report on Operation Fast and Furious.

If you were like me, you had to work as well. Fortunately, the Committee has made the video available of the hearings. You can see them below:

Issa Confirms Civil Lawsuit To Be Filed Against Eric Holder

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) confirmed last night by Twitter that the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will be filing their civil lawsuit against Attorney General Eric Holder in US District Court today. The suit is being brought to force Holder to turn over the subpoenaed documents that he and the Justice Department have been withholding.

Sharyl Attkisson of CBS News first reported that the lawsuit was to be filed yesterday afternoon.

The contempt vote had two possible tracks for enforcement: criminal and civil. But shortly after the House vote, the Department of Justice announced it would not pursue a criminal case against its own Attorney General and did not believe any crime had been committed. The civil lawsuit expected to be filed Monday would ask a federal judge to order the Justice Department to turn over the documents.

Matt Boyle of The Daily Caller has more here.

What’s Next For The Fast And Furious Investigation

Rep. Darrell Issa made the rounds of the Sunday talk shows today. In addition to ABC’s This Week, Issa appeared on both Fox News Sunday and NBC’s Meet The Press. His message was consistent across all the shows – he didn’t want it to come to this, he just wanted to know the answers to the questions they posed, and that the investigation would continue.

The Fox News Sunday appearance is below. It also featured Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) who is the Ranking Member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Cummings repeated the usual nonsense about this being a witch hunt.

Watch the latest video at <a href=”http://video.foxnews.com”>video.foxnews.com</a>

It was a bit surprising the even NBC News has finally noticed Operation Fast and Furious after ignoring for some many months. On Meet the Press’ Political Roundtable, the panel included NBC’s Andrea Mitchell and David Gregory, former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, Politico’s Jonathan Martin, and Rep. Issa. I must admit the desire to slap the smirk off of David Gregory’s face more than once in his interview with Issa. Chairman Issa is a much more patient man than I am and can handle the nonsense from some of NBC’s questioners without getting riled.

“You Can’t Play Liar’s Poker” – Darrell Issa

Rep. Darrell Issa was the lead guest on ABC’s This Week. Issa was interviewed by Jake Tapper who was sitting in for regular host George Stephanopoulos.

Issa outlined this morning that before the House committee he leads voted to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt, he tried to reach an agreement with Holder.

“They came with nothing. Not even an offer in a form of a piece of paper. What they said orally was ‘we will brief you. We will then give you the information we believe supports that briefing, but you have to first agree to dismiss your subpoenas and your contempt,” said Issa. “You can’t play liar’s poker when you’re looking for who killed somebody, when you’re looking into this kind of a crime, and when you’re looking into the cover-up. Remember, it was deny, delay, and recuse.”

On the issue of gunwalking that happened during the Bush Administration, Issa acknowledged that it was wrong then and it’s wrong now. He did go on to point out that the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee had requested and received plenty of information from Attorney General Eric Holder on prior gunwalking. However, he said it was like a small child getting caught in a lie over some incident and then saying “my brother did it too.” It doesn’t excuse the young child and it doesn’t excuse the current Department of Justice of its complicity in walking guns to the narco-terrorists.

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Issa Interview After The Contempt Vote

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) was the lead guest on Fox’s On the Record with Greta van Sustern last night. He discussed in detail the contempt citation for Attorney General Eric Holder, the executive privilege claim, and other items related to Operation Fast and Furious.

Of note was that Issa was not notified of President Obama’s decision to claim executive privilege on the subpoenaed materials until about 10 minutes before the 10am meeting was to begin. It came to him in an 8-page document from the Attorney General’s office. As to the claim of executive privilege itself, Issa said the White House was either trying to create an executive privilege that doesn’t exist or that has a loosely held meaning.

Watch the latest video at video.foxnews.com

Contempt Vote Will Continue As Scheduled

Attorney General Eric Holder met at 5pm today with Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) along with Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) to discuss the production of certain documents related to Operation Fast and Furious in an attempt to stave off the vote on the contempt citation. The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is scheduled to meet on Wednesday to vote on a contempt citation for Holder for failing to produce subpoenaed documents.

The only thing that could postpone or stop the vote on the contempt citation would be for Eric Holder to deliver a subset of the documents requested by the committee. As of the 5pm meeting, he hadn’t done that and indicated in the meeting that he wasn’t prepared to produce them.

The following is the statement from Chairman Issa on the meeting and the contempt vote.

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa made the following statement after his meeting with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder:

“I had hoped that after this evening’s meeting I would be able to tell you that the Department had delivered documents that would justify the postponement of tomorrow’s vote on contempt. The Department told the Committee on Thursday that it had documents it could produce that would answer our questions. Today, the Attorney General informed us that the Department would not be producing those documents. The only offer they made involved us ending our investigation.

“While I still hope the Department will reconsider its decision so tomorrow’s vote can be postponed, after this meeting I cannot say that I am optimistic. At this point, we simply do not have the documents we have repeatedly said we need to justify the postponement of a contempt vote in committee.”

While Issa is still holding the door open for postponing the vote on contempt it appears to be closing fast. If his description of what Holder said is accurate – and there is no reason to believe it isn’t – then Holder just thumbed his nose at the Committee again. I think all that Holder accomplishes with his stonewalling is to unite the Committee’s Republicans.

UPDATE: Sen. Chuck Grassley didn’t think much of Eric Holder’s decision to continue withholding the documents.

“The Attorney General wants to trade a briefing and the promise of delivering some small, unspecified set of documents tomorrow for a free pass today. He wants to turn over only what he wants to turn over and not give us any information about what he’s not turning over. That’s unacceptable. I’m not going to buy a pig in a poke. Chairman Issa is right to move forward to seek answers about a disastrous government operation.”

Contempt Vote Scheduled For June 20th

A vote on holding Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress has been scheduled by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee for June 20th. I think this indicates that Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA)  has the number of votes needed to get the contempt citation out of committee and to the floor of the House of Representatives. You just wouldn’t see a committee chair schedule something this serious if he wasn’t absolutely certain he had the votes for it to pass. Moreover, as Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s statement indicates, Issa has the (tepid) support of the House leadership.

From the committee’s release about the vote:

On June 20th, the Oversight Committee will meet to consider a report holding Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress for his failure to produce subpoenaed documents related to Operation Fast & Furious.

WASHINGTON— On Wednesday, June 20, 2012, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will convene to consider a report holding Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress for his failure to produce documents specified in the Committee’s October 12, 2011, subpoena. Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa issued the following statement on the scheduling of a Committee vote on contempt:

“For over a year and a half, the House Oversight Committee, with Senator Chuck Grassley, has conducted a joint investigation of reckless conduct in Operation Fast and Furious. With the support of House leadership, the Republican Conference, and even some Democratic Members who have expressed concern to the White House over the Justice Department’s failure to cooperate, this investigation has yielded significant results. The Attorney General has acknowledged that the operation was fundamentally flawed and he has committed to take steps to ensure that it does not occur again. Evidence found in applications for wiretaps shows that although senior officials were given information about reckless tactics, they still signed affirmations that they had reviewed the investigation and determined that electronic surveillance of phones was necessary.

“Despite what the investigation has uncovered through whistleblowers and documents the Justice Department had tried to hide, the Committee’s work is not yet complete. Attorney General Holder has failed to meet his legal obligations pursuant to the October 12 subpoena. House leaders reiterated this failure in a May 18, 2012, letter. Specifically, the Justice Department has refused to turn over critical documents on the grounds that they show internal Department deliberations and were created after February 4, 2011 – the date Justice issued a false denial to Congress. Contempt will focus on the failure to provide these post February 4th documents.

“The Obama Administration has not asserted Executive Privilege or any other valid privilege over these materials and it is unacceptable that the Department of Justice refuses to produce them. These documents pertain to Operation Fast and Furious, the claims of whistleblowers, and why it took the Department nearly a year to retract false denials of reckless tactics. The Justice Department’s actions have obstructed the investigation. Congress has an obligation to investigate unanswered questions about attempts to smear whistleblowers, failures by Justice Department officials to be truthful and candid with the congressional investigation, and the reasons for the significant delay in acknowledging reckless conduct in Operation Fast and Furious.

“While the Justice Department can still stop the process of contempt, this will only occur through the delivery of the post February 4, 2011, documents related to Operation Fast and Furious and whistleblower accusations subpoenaed by the Committee. If the Attorney General decides to produce these subpoenaed documents, I am confident we can reach agreement on other materials and render the process of contempt unnecessary.”

Committee consideration of a contempt citation is a debatable and amendable measure. Committee approval requires a majority vote. Contempt is a process for enforcing compliance with a lawful subpoena and does not assign blame for the flawed and reckless conduct that took place in Operation Fast and Furious.

CBS’s Sharyl Attkisson has a video report on the vote including some background on past contempt citations for members of the Executive Branch.

Mike Vanderboegh does disagree with one comment made at the end of the CBS story which claims credit for exposing the scandal nationally. As he notes – and I agree with him – this ignores the work of both he and David Codrea in bringing it to light and bringing the whistleblowers to the media.