In today's installment of Marco's Constituent Mailbox video series, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio responds to two constituents regarding U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder's role in the botched Fast and Furious gun-running operation.
Jack in Palm Bay wrote demanding that Attorney General Holder be held accountable for his agency's role in the failed operation. George in Estero requested that Holder be investigated and held in contempt of Congress.
In responding to these letters, Rubio said, "I think that it is outrageous for any attorney general, Republican or Democrat, to refuse to comply with Congress' constitutional right to hold them accountable and the Justice Department accountable. I would say that if this was a Republican, just like I do now because it's a Democrat. Not only that, I think this has gone on so long, and the stonewalling by the attorney general has been so egregious that I think he has to resign. And I don't come to that position lightly. I don't like asking for resignations, especially in a position as important as attorney general."
Each week, Rubio receives thousands of letters, emails and phone calls from Floridians voicing their opinions. Through this video series, Rubio will regularly respond to a selection of constituent letters on various topics.
Senator Marco Rubio
Marco's Constituent Mailbox -- Fast and Furious Scandal
June 27, 2012
Hi, I'm Marco Rubio and welcome to this week's edition of Constituent Mailbox. As you know, every week we take emails and letters, we read them, we pick a few and we read them on the air. It gives us a good indication of what people are focused on, and that's why we do it every week, to be in touch with you.
This week I want to focus on Attorney General Eric Holder and the Fast and Furious program because we've gotten a lot of emails on it. So let me read a couple that are typical of what we've been getting. And then we'll respond in our viewpoint.
The first comes from Jack in Palm Bay and he writes, "Attorney General Holder should answer for his inadequately planned sting." He puts that in quotation marks, the word sting. "That has now provided thousands of unrecoverable weapons to the cartels and traffickers and already led to at least one border patrol person's death by the very arms Holder all but gave to thugs, men without conscience, murderers, and those making money pushing drugs into our country."
A second email from George in Estero says, "Attorney General Eric Holder has continuously stonewalled the congressional investigation into the Fast and Furious scandal by withholding evidence and documents requested by congressional committees."
Well, first of all, there's a couple things going on here that people need to be aware of. First of all, there was a program called Fast and Furious, and what it did is it basically allowed arms to fall into the hands of drug smugglers and drug dealers in Mexico, and they did that so they could track them. But the program went horribly wrong and in fact some of those weapons were used and led to the death of a U.S. agent.
And so now, what happened was, when rumors about this program began to surface, the Congress specifically asked the attorney general if this program existed and if he knew about it, and he denied it. Of course, a few months later they came back and said, "We were wrong in our answer. This program does exist." But the attorney general kept saying that he had no idea at the time that this program existed and that he had nothing to do with authorizing it.
So Congress, which has a legitimate constitutional right to have oversight over the attorney general and the Justice Department. That's one of the legitimate roles of the House, is to have oversight to basically hold accountable the decisions made by these agencies.
Congress requested records. They said, "Let us see your records, your emails, your decision making memos. Let us look at these things, so we can make sure when you knew these things and how far along did you know it, and what you did to stop it." And the attorney general has refused to provide those documents. They've even offered him to show those documents in a private setting, so that the most sensitive ones don't become public and don't undermine the Justice Department's ability to do their work. But again, the attorney general has refused.
And so, the committee, which has subpoena power, again, under the Constitution and laws of this country, has voted to hold him in contempt. The committee did, and now, the full House will hold a vote on that as well.
I agree with that. I think that it is outrageous for any attorney general, Republican or Democrat, to refuse to comply with Congress' constitutional right to hold them accountable and the Justice Department accountable. I would say that if this was a Republican, just like I do now because it's a Democrat. Not only that, I think this has gone on so long, and the stonewalling by the attorney general has been so egregious that I think he has to resign. And I don't come to that position lightly. I don't like asking for resignations, especially in a position as important as attorney general. But the problem here is that the attorney general, just the day before, was willing to show some of these documents if they just gave him more time. Others he wasn't willing to show at all. But now they've argued executive privilege, which is basically a protection the President uses if someone in the White House or if Presidents themselves want to protect their communications from discovery. But a day earlier, they weren't using executive privilege, so what changed in between?
Well, what it leads us to believe unfortunately -- and I hope I'm wrong, I really do -- but it leads me to believe that there's something in those documents they don't want us to know about. There's something in there they don't want the public to be aware of, and I think that's wrong.
No one can be above the law, not even the attorney general of the United States. In fact, especially the attorney general of the United States. He should comply immediately with this valid congressional request. And if he refuses to do so, I think the House is going to hold him in contempt. And I think an attorney general held in contempt of Congress is someone who should resign. And I say that with real sadness because I don't like to see that happen. It's not good for our country. But that's where we are, and that's how I feel about it.
So thank you for writing in your emails and your letters on these issues. This is an important issue. I know that from the outside it may appear to be partisan, but really it's not. It's about the proper role of government to exercise oversight over these agencies. If there isn't accountability, well then the whole system falls apart. And so I hope they'll comply as soon as possible.
Thank you for writing in. I encourage you to continue to do so. Every week, as I said, we look at these emails, we look at these letters. We pick the ones that are most indicative of the kinds of topics that are coming up, and then we pick two or three and read them on the air and answer your questions. So keep writing because, who knows, maybe next week it will be your email that we respond to.
Until then thank you so much for the privilege and the honor of serving you here in Washington, D.C. Every single day when I come into work, I recognize what an extraordinary privilege I've been given to be your voice here in the United States Senate. And for that I feel blessed, and I feel grateful. May God Bless all of you, may God always Bless the State of Florida and may God always Bless the United States of America.