Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa today urged Attorney General Eric Holder to produce any evidence to back a serious claim about a prior attorney general's having knowledge about a gun-walking operation called Wide Receiver and to apologize if no such evidence is available. Holder made the claim about prior attorney general Michael Mukasey at a Judiciary Committee hearing this week. If any such evidence exists to back Holder's claim, it has yet to come to light after months of scrutiny, and the charge should not stand without any evidence to back it up.
Grassley, ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, issued the following statement on the Holder charge.
On Fast and Furious, I was extremely disappointed to hear Attorney General Holder try to deflect criticism of himself and his Department by pointing the finger at his predecessor.
Specifically, he said to Senator Cornyn: "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."
That's a serious charge. The problem is: we have absolutely zero evidence that it's true.
Nothing in the documents produced by the Justice Department and no information provided by any whistleblowers that I know of suggests that Attorney General Mukasey was ever briefed about Wide Receiver. Period.
If Attorney General Holder made that kind of a charge about Attorney General Mukasey to this Committee without any evidence to back it up, that would be an outrage.
So, I'm sending a letter this morning to Attorney General Holder asking him to provide any evidence he has to support his allegation against Attorney General Mukasey.
And, I'm asking for a response before the hearing record is closed next week.
If he can't produce evidence that Attorney General Mukasey was briefed on Wide Receiver, then he owes Mr. Mukasey an apology.
It appears to be an effort to shift blame away from himself, but I'm willing to hear his explanation.
The highest-ranking Justice Department official I'm aware of who knew about gun-walking in Wide Receiver is not Attorney General Mukasey. It is Lanny Breuer.
Breuer did nothing to stop ATF from walking guns after learning about it in April 2010. That is why I called on him to resign. The evidence shows he and his deputies did not focus on making sure ATF never did it again. Instead, emails indicate they discussed how to help ATF be prepared to minimize the potential embarrassment over gunwalking in the press.
If Attorney General Holder wants to criticize senior Department officials who knew about gunwalking and did nothing, he should start with the current head of his own Criminal Division, Lanny Breuer.
June 14, 2012
VIA ELECTRONIC TRANSMISSION
The Honorable Eric H. Holder, Jr.
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20530
Dear Attorney General Holder:
Tuesday, in response to Senator Cornyn's call for your resignation, you
responded, in part, with the following statement:
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.
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.
I am aware that the Justice Department produced a memorandum to Attorney
General Mukasey in preparation for a November 16, 2007, meeting with Mexican
Attorney General Medina Mora.1 At no point does this memo mention Operation Wide Receiver, in which over 300 guns were allowed to walk to Mexico. Instead, the memo appears to refer to a case called Hernandez, which involved a planned controlled delivery -- not intentional gunwalking.
Documents the Justice Department has produced have indicated that the
gunwalking in Operation Wide Receiver was brought to the attention of Assistant
Attorney General Lanny Breuer in April 2010 by his deputy, Jason Weinstein.
Breuer's response, according to a contemporaneous e-mail from Criminal Division Gang Unit Chief James Trusty, was simply that he "want[ed] us to meet with [ATF] at some point so they know the bad stuff that could come out."2 Weinstein subsequently indicated to ATF Deputy Director William Hoover: "The reason we wanted to meet with you before charging is that the case has [two] aspects that could create media challenges and we wanted to talk through them first."3 I have called for Breuer's resignation in part because, the evidence so far shows that he is the highest-ranking government official who was personally informed about gunwalking in any case, and he did nothing to put a stop to it.
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. Given the gravity of these allegations, I would appreciate a response by Monday, June 18, 2012. If you have any questions concerning this matter, please contact Tristan Leavitt of my staff at (202) 224-5225.
Charles E. Grassley
1 Memo to the Attorney General, "Meeting of the Attorney General with Mexican Attorney General Medina
Mora" (Nov. 16, 2007) [HOGR HRNDZ 003240].
2 E-mail from James Trusty, Acting Chief, Gang Unit, Criminal Division, DOJ, to Kevin Carwile, Chief,
Capital Case Unit, Criminal Division, DOJ (Apr. 19, 2010) [HOGR 003451] (emphasis added).
3 E-mail from Jason Weinstein, Deputy Assistant Attorney General, Criminal Division, DOJ, to William
Hoover, Deputy Director, ATF (Apr. 20, 2010) [HOGR 003452].