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I`m joined by two members of this committee that is dealing with all
of this. I`m joined by Congressman Peter Welch of Vermont and Congressman
Gerald Connolly of Virginia.
Gentlemen, great to have you with us tonight.
Congressman Welch, I want to ask you first.
REP. GERALD CONNOLLY (D), VIRGINIA: Great to be with you, Ed.
SCHULTZ: You bet.
Why can`t the Democrats call witnesses to these hearings? I mean,
obviously there are key people that need to be heard from, yet the
Republicans are hell-bent for election to hold this vote for contempt in
the full House coming up next week.
Why can`t you get people in front of the committee?
REP. PETER WELCH (D), VERMONT: Well, Ed, you`re asking the question
we asked Chairman Issa, and he said he`s not going to permit it. He`s got
the authority as chair to prohibit us from doing it.
You know, it`s very relevant. Congressman Mica says this is a gun
deal by a gun controlled administration. Well, this happened, this Fast
and Furious operation, Wide Receiver as it was called before, started in
the Bush administration. This had been going on for years.
This is something that was inherited during the Obama administration.
There`s no evidence that the top of the Justice Department knew about it
under Obama. There`s no evidence whatsoever that President Obama knew
One of the questions we were asking Mr. Issa is, look, if you want to
get to the bottom of this and this is really about doing oversight, why
don`t we start at the beginning? The beginning was in the Bush
administration. It was the Attorney General Mukasey.
And he says that`s basically not relevant. So, that`s a -- that`s an
interesting construction at getting to the bottom of something when you
start after it`s over and focus your attention on the administration that
SCHULTZ: I mean, it would seem to me that Darrell Issa would feel
compelled by his responsibility as chairman of this committee to go right
to the heart of the issue and get the head of the Alcohol, Tobacco and
Firearms right from its inception and find out if these weapons were
traced, because there`s conflicting information on that.
Congressman Connolly, what is this conspiracy gun control theory
that`s out there of some of your colleagues they`re spinning? What do you
say to them?
CONNOLLY: It is a big lie technique, Ed.
In fact, it`s interesting. The vote next week scheduled by Speaker
Boehner on the contempt citation on the floor of the House, NRA has
suddenly decided they`re going to score that vote. Isn`t that
coincidental? The one thing they don`t want to talk about is the role of
illegal guns and the violence in the southern part of our border and
I met with the attorney general in Mexico. The number one thing he
said we could do that would make an appreciable difference in violence in
his country was to reinstate the assault weapons ban. We haven`t had a
single hearing as part of this investigation on the role of guns and on the
enforcement of gun laws on the books right now.
SCHULTZ: Congressman Welch, do we know if the Republicans` key
argument is even true? Were any of these guns ever traceable? I want to
get you on the record on this. From what you know, were any of these guns
WELCH: They were traceable. This is a botched operation. There`s no
question about it.
SCHULTZ: They were not?
WELCH: As I mentioned -- no, it was a botched operation. Some of
them were traced, and, in fact, a couple of guns that were allowed to walk
-- as we call it -- were in the vicinity of where agent Terry was killed.
This is a serious issue as far as a mismanagement.
But again, it`s morphed into this political agenda that`s obviously
quite disturbing. Let me give you a really good example. The subpoena
that was issued to the attorney general as of last Friday was asking,
directing him to turn over information that would have been a violation of
law for him to turn over -- grand jury transcripts, the rules of criminal
procedure explicitly prohibit it. Transcripts of wiretap applications.
The United States code explicitly prohibits it.
WELCH: So Darrell Issa in the committee was demanding that the
attorney general commit a violation of his oath, violate the law in his
refusal to do that, they`re calling him an obstructionist. So that`s kind
of a distraction. Some people might ask whether it`s political.
CONNOLLY: Ed, can I?
CONNOLLY: Ed, can I add one thing here to what Peter just said?
You asked about guns. We`re talking about roughly 2,000 guns in these
special programs that went awry, as Peter said. But what it masks is tens
and tens and tens of thousands of illegal weapons purchases crossing that
southern border into Mexico every year. Killing hundreds of innocent
people and fuelling the drug cartel`s war against itself.
And that doesn`t get talked about because Darrell Issa and his friends
at NRA don`t want us talking about that. They would rather pretend that
Eric Holder is the problem.
SCHULTZ: There seems to be some concern from Darrell Issa about a
February 4th letter. And the attorney general says that he thought this
program was not taking place, yet it was still going on.
I have to ask both of you, do you believe the attorney general?
WELCH: Well, I do.
CONNOLLY: I do.
WELCH: What happened there was when the request was made, the
legislative affairs operation of the attorney general`s office asked for
information from, of all places, the Phoenix ATF office. And they assured
the legislative affairs folks, no, we weren`t doing this. Of course, that
turned out to be wrong. And when the attorney general learned it was
wrong, he wrote a letter correcting it.
So there clearly was some misinformation by the Phoenix office where
all of this started.
Now, this is a problem, and all of us on the committee are willing to
get to the bottom of it. But it`s not this conspiracy thing asking the
attorney general to turn over illegal information. You can`t do that.
SCHULTZ: And, Congressman Connolly, we now have a constitutional
crisis on our hands if they would want to ignore an executive order by the
president. How much of trying to defeat President Obama is in all of this?
CONNOLLY: That`s entirely what the agenda is here. And I called it
yesterday, it`s a kangaroo court. We`ve decided someone`s guilt before we
heard the testimony. We`ve filtered our facts we don`t like. We`ve
actually doctored testimony. We had an ATF agent who talked to our
committee in public hearing, their witness, the Republican`s witness, who
actually that said, you know, the enforcement mechanisms and gun control
laws are too loose. We need tighter laws. We need more laws, more
He was actually censored by Darrell Issa for going beyond the scope of
the hearing. They don`t want to talk about those things.
SCHULTZ: Yes. Well, and, finally, I want to know, Congressman Welch,
do you agree with Congresswoman Pelosi who says it`s about the voter purge?
That they just want to get rid of Eric Holder because he`s doing the due
diligence on that?
WELCH: Well, they absolutely want him gone. Pick your reason. I
mean, he`s not enforcing DOMA. He wants people regardless of sexual
preference to be able to be married. He is against the enforcement of that
Arizona law that was really hard and unfair and to Mexican-Americans and
Hispanics. Of course, he`s standing up for voter rights.
SCHULTZ: Yes. Do you agree with her?
WELCH: A lot of things they`re against Eric Holder on. Yes.
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