DOJ Retracts Holder’s ‘Inadvertent’ False Statement to Congress
On Monday, the Department of Justice was forced to once again retract information provided to Congress about the Fast and Furious scandal.
On June 12th, Attorney General Holder had a heated exchange with Sen. Cornyn during congressional testimony. Senator Cornyn offered a litany of complaints with AG Holder's performance and then concluded by asking for his resignation. Ironically, Holder responded by saying Sen. Cornyn's statement was "breathtaking in its inaccuracy," then went on to offer an inaccurate response (Holder's remarks begin at 4 minutes):
If you want to talk about Fast and Furious, I’m the Attorney General that put an end to the misguided tactics that were used in Fast and Furious. An Attorney General who I suppose you would hold in higher regard was briefed on these kinds of tactics in an operation called Wide Receiver and did nothing to stop them – nothing. Three hundred guns, at least, walked in that instance. [emphasis added]
Senator Grassley's staff jumped on this statement and sent the DOJ a letter asking for clarification of what AG Holder was claiming:
This is a serious charge. However, as far as I’m aware, the Justice Department has produced nothing to date that indicates any former Attorney General was briefed on Operation Wide Receiver...
If the Justice Department has documentation about Operation Wide Receiver which it has not yet produced and which indicate a higher level of awareness of gunwalking than has previously been indicated, such evidence should be produced immediately.
It turns out Justice couldn't produce anything to back up Holder's claims, so they were forced to retract his statement in a letter dated June 18th, just two days before his contempt proceeding:
As we explained in a letter to Chairman Issa on March 16th, 2012, and as you note, this briefing paper concerned the case of Fidel Hernandez, not Wide Receiver as the Attorney General inadvertently stated at the hearing. [emphasis added]
Attorney General Holder's references to Wide Receiver during his testimony have been anything but inadvertent. In testimony on June 7, 2012, Rep. Jason Chaffetz read an October 2010 email written by Deputy Assistant Attorney General Jason Weinstein which said, "Do you think we should have Lanny participate in press when Fast and Furious and Laura’s Tucson case are unsealed? It’s a tricky case, given the number of guns that have walked, but it is a significant set of prosecutions" (emphasis added).
Incredibly, Holder's response is that the email which mentions Fast and Furious by name was about Wide Receiver. It truly has to be seen to be believed. Chaffetz is clearly stunned by the response (start at 4 minutes again).
This is not the first time DOJ has been forced to retract statements to Congress about Fast and Furious. Last year, the DOJ sent a letter to Congress claiming that gun walking was not sanctioned by the ATF. That claim turned out to be false, and the DOJ later retracted the letter and offered documents to explain how the false information made its way to Congress.